Matthew goes to great lengths to prepare us for Jesus’ return. There will be great suffering, changes in the sun and moon, the stars will fall, and Jesus will appear, accompanied by trumpet sounds. (See Matthew 25:29-30.) And while we may be tempted to sit back and wait for these signs, we have work to do to ensure our readiness. Fill lamps with oil. Purchase extra oil. Feed the hungry. Welcome the stranger. And invest wages in ways that will double their return.
We approach the end times with different emotions depending upon what we have been taught about God. Is God like a parent who punishes offspring by withholding play and food? Is God a scorekeeper with a large pad of paper on which are noted our sins and shortcomings? Or is God like a father who sits by the window waiting for a runaway child to come home? Is God one whose arms remain outstretched, eager to embrace whoever wants to receive love, mercy, and affection?
Who is God to you? Our answer to this question dictates how we speak, how we act—how we live. If we believe God is always more eager to punish than to forgive, then we are likely to walk a narrow line that provides a limited return, aligning ourselves more closely with the third slave in our story from Matthew 25. But if we believe God eagerly loves and affirms us, then we are more apt to do what we can to love, affirm, and serve others in similar ways, multiplying the gifts God has given to us like the first two slaves.
God’s greatest desire is for us to celebrate, to enter into God’s joy. This joy will come at the end, but we receive glimpses of it today. What can we do to double all God has given to us?

Gracious God, help us multiply your many gifts! Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 25:14-30

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Lectionary Week
November 13–19, 2017
Scripture Overview

In the book of Judges, we find a woman confidently leading a patriarchal nation as though it were an everyday occurrence. The psalm reminds us that the need for mercy reduces each and every one to a posture of outstretched hands and upturned eyes. To sing such a song on the way to worship, as was traditionally done, is to prepare the mind and heart for the possibility of whatever blessing may be given upon arrival. In First Thessalonians we overhear an apostle’s exhortation to live openly and expectantly regarding God’s future revelation—alert to the coming of Christ but also aware that Christ may come in sudden and unanticipated ways. Finally, a parable in Matthew runs counter to our instincts to safeguard that which we treasure, challenging us to consider the ways in which faithfulness involves a strange coupling of risk and reward.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Judges 4:1-7. Reread the last paragraph of Monday’s meditation and reflect on the writer’s two questions.
• Read Psalm 123. How do you address God? Is God more “enthroned above” for you, or “right here in [your] midst”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. The writer states, “We stay awake each time we practice acts of love and mercy.” When have you felt divinely awakened by an act of love?
• Read Matthew 25:14-30. Identify ways you take risks in your life presently. Do any of these risks relate to living out your faith?

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