Friday, November 18, 2011


The wedding feast continues. Today’s first reading and psalm are often used at weddings. This time, Wisdom appears in the guise of a housewife who is busy about building up her family. The worthy wife is a mirror-image of all of us, as are the servants of the gospel story, who are to be productive as we wait for the master’s return. We hope to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” This is the text of “My Reward,” which we also sang last week. The theme of loving service is reflected in the 18th-century hymn text “Love consecrates the humblest act,” from which come the verses for this week’s communion processional. We will gather and go out to “City of God,” a musical meditation on light which at this time of year is growing scarcer as the days grow shorter. St. Paul pep-talks the Thessalonians: “We are sons of the morning! We are daughters of day!” Just as the bridegroom arrived at an unexpected hour in last week’s gospel, St. Paul warns the Thessalonians that the reign of God may surprise us like a thief in the night or like labor pains. Our artificial attempts at peace and security fall far short of the master’s requirements. In her book The Eighth Day of Creation, Elizabeth O’Connor meditates in depth on the parable of the talents as an exercise in community building. Those who are willing to take a risk are rewarded with the joy of creativity. But our sympathy is with the servant who, out of fear, takes the reasonable and prudent course and buries his money. How could the master be so unfeeling as to cast him out of the house? And yet, if we have not been invited use our creativity for the building-up of the household, we too will feel as if we are on the outside looking in, frustrated and angry. How much of this frustration fuels the “Occupy America” demonstrations?  What is the resonance for someone who has worked for years developing certain skills and talents, and now is told they are obsolete or useless, in particular veterans returning from combat? How important is it for the church to be a place where, in the words of the hymn “Come, Host of Heaven’s
High Dwelling Place
,” “the loser may find his worth, the stranger find a friend, the hopeless find their faith, and aimless find an end”?
         Our offertory hymn, “America the Beautiful,” doubles as a recognition of the blessings of the harvest and the sacrifices of those who defend our country.