Then the servant who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Sir, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” — Jesus in Matthew 25:20-21
Most would agree that this year has provided great challenges. What might be harder to see, but just as true, is that this year has provided us with great opportunities to make faith real and love visible.
December is traditionally a season of gift-buying and gift-giving. However, for more people than usual in this time of pandemic and economic uncertainly, diminished resources have made this tradition incredibly difficult.
At the same time, the current crisis provides an opportunity for those who are less vulnerable to move beyond the usual gift-giving for an inner circle of loved ones, and toward a deeper and wider vision of gift-multiplying that can make a transformative difference in our community.
For example, a “perfect storm” is on the horizon for many: moratoriums on evictions are coming to an end just as earlier stimulus monies are depleted, and families who are un/underemployed will be greatly challenged to make back rent or mortgage payments that have piled up. As of this writing, 4,000 families in Tucson have already applied for rental assistance and one of our state senators reported recently that 7,000 more families in Tucson will be in danger of immediate eviction as the moratoriums expire. We can feel helpless in the face of such need.
Someone in my church recently pledged money with the intent of sowing seeds of generosity to make a transformative difference during this deeply difficult time. Aligned with the teachings of Jesus, such as in the “Parable of the Talents” of Matthew 25, we have invited our relatively small faith community to “multiply the gift” of our original donor to begin to address this crisis of people losing their homes. So far we have raised $75,000 for Our Family Services of Tucson (ourfamilyservices.org) to prevent eviction and homelessness.
Some people have shared large sums. Some have shared smaller ones. Regardless of the dollar amount, we are being inspired by our God and one another to release resources, share gifts, and together make a greater impact, bringing more of God’s love, healing, hope, and justice alive in greater Tucson. Imagine what you or your own community (faith group, book club, etc.) might do to join together and multiply gifts to make a transformative difference right now?
The needs in our time and place are great. The opportunities to work together to make a difference are great as well. All of us are gifted and have something to offer: money or physical resources, skills for making or serving, stories that inspire, listening ears, and so much more.
Imagine what happens when together we invite God to help us see, take a risk, and share the gifts. Imagine the gift-multiplication that could help our community to be more loving, just, creative, beautiful and life-giving for all.
I pray we turn this imagining into reality during this holiday season and beyond.
Meet the Reverend
The Rev. Michael T. Bush is serving his 26th year as an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, including congregations in Washington, Michigan, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. He was recently installed as the Senior Minister of Casas Adobes Congregational UCC in Tucson (caucc.org).
He is committed to a ministry of renewal through engagement with sacred stories, theological reflection, and spiritual practices that deepen our roots in the Spirit so that we can reach out widely to the world in justice, inclusion, love, and hope.
Bush co-authored “Chaos and The Kingdom” and has two additional books in the editing phase in support of these practices of spiritual renewal.