Taking a Risk to Expand

02.13.22 | by Jennifer Parks-Snyder

To celebrate Scout Sunday I began to investigate, some of the most popular Scouts we know.
So here are some names I came across. For Boy Scouts I discovered the following:
Neil Armstrong, astronaut and the first man to walk on the moon was an Eagle Scout.
Steven Spielberg, movie producer of ET, Transformers, and Lincoln, helped develop the
requirements for Boy Scouts to earn the cinematography merit badge. He is also an Eagle
Scout. Sam Walton is the founder of Wal-Mart and was also an Eagle Scout. Jimmy Buffett is a
musician and he was a member of the Boy Scouts as was Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Presidents George W Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama were all Boy Scouts. And
President Gerald Ford was an Eagle Scout. And for Girl Scouts I found such names as:
Michelle Obama - Wife of President Barack Obama. Dr. Sally Ride - Astronaut, first woman in
Space was a Girl Scout, as was Katie Couric, Mariah Carey, and her majesty, Queen Elizabeth
But ultimately who is the most popular known Boy Scout? This guy! Russell, from
Disney’s 2009 movie Up! The story is at the beginning we meet Carl and the love of his life,
Ellie. They grow up both wanting to be explorers, and vow that at one point their journey will
take them to Paradise Falls. By the time they are ready for the trip, Ellie gets ill and passes, and
so Carl is left with this dream. But as it would be, one day he meets Russell a young Wilderness
Explorer just trying to earn his final merit badge for assisting the elderly.
And so Carl and Russell journey up, taking a number of risks together.
In our scripture lesson today, Jesus tells the parable of a man who gave wages, known as
talents back then, to his servants and entrusted them to use those talents to make a profit. But
one servant did not, he did not take the risk to use those talents and in the end was condemned.
Here’s the background. Jesus is getting ready for his departure, and so he knows he must
prepare his listeners for his absence, which means they must continue his ministry. Yes, one day
he will come back, although not even he knows the day or time, but until then, his disciples
must reveal the kingdom with deeds of mercy, forgiveness, and peace. So Jesus illustrates that
urgency with parables, stories the disciples are to remember, that are to inspire them to keep
going with Jesus ministry.
The talent parable is about 3 servants who receive money, aka a talent, that would have
been equal to 15 years of wages. So this is obviously to be understood as a very generous, very
important gift, that they were entrusted in. It was precious, as is the kingdom. And with those
talents the man expected the servants to use them to increase what they have. That’s why he
gave certain amounts, as the text says “each according to his ability” v. 15. The first two men
doubled their talents. The last one claimed out of fear of the giver, he hid the money so he could
return it.
So here’s the dilemma, how do we view the giver? Does he appear harsh as the servant claims?
“harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.” We’re
not certain, because up to this point he has celebrated the other workers, and allowed them to
keep what they earned. What we can discern is that if Jesus is using this illustration of the
Christian life until his return, do we see Jesus as hard man who takes or gives? You and I know
he takes pain and sorrow, he takes worries and fears, and in return he brings new life. The first
two servants knew their master, and knew talents from him would be best to be used and shared
with others.
The third servant didn’t know Jesus and in the end condemns himself (look at verse 26
again). Do we know people like that? People who criticize or avoid church because they have
heard or sadly witnessed a gospel of condemnation and judgement, from people who have
judged or condemned them? Yes, we do. But we know better, and so this story is to inspire us
that what we know to be the truth of this gospel, what we have received from Jesus, we should
not hide it, but share it with others. Share the encouragement, share the healing, share the
forgiveness and peace, share the love. As Jesus says in John 13:34-35: 34 “A new command I
give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this
everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Further by sharing that
love, there will be more, as shared in this parable today: 29 For whoever has will be given
more, and they will have an abundance
Last week we spoke of the Holy Spirit hovering over us, guiding us to create ways to
share God’s goodness and presence. This week Jesus challenges us to take a risk with what we
have been given in our relationship with him, and share it with others. Because in doing so, he
guarantees not only to commend us, but that what we give will be doubled, meaning the more
we share of Christ, the more others experience him and his kingdom, the better creation will be.
Going back to Up! On their journey Carl and Russell run into a struggle to defend
themselves, or help others. Carl wants to just keep to himself, because that’s where he believes
his journey has taken him, there is no more, no more usefulness for others, just himself.
Meanwhile Russell, being a good scout, knows life is about taking risks to help others, be it
people, creatures, or nature, and so he moves on, living into that goal. But one day as Carl was
settling into his home, he looks through Ellie's childhood scrapbook and finding photos of their
happy marriage, he found a note from Ellie thanking him for the "adventure" and encouraging
him to go on a new one. That’s when it clicked for Carl. If he sits and does nothing, living in the
past, then he is nothing, right? However, if he goes out and welcomes the adventure each day
can bring, then he is living life as an adventurer, he is living a life that can be good and useful,
as he allows himself to be good and useful for others. Together Carl and Russell save the day
for each other and those around them. And in the end, Russell gets his badge, and Carl receives
a new family.
It’s a great story about taking risks, using what you have been given, and invest yourself
with it. For Russel it was the Scout program that led him to invest in Carl, and for Carl it was
his love of his wife and her encouragement that led him to invest in Russel and others.
What have you received in this lifetime that fosters a sense of wanting to share with
others? A scouting program, a friendship, an education? A Family?
I would hope your faith would be part of that too. And in saying that, What has your faith given
you that you want to witness to others to inspire and welcome them to the Christian life?
Yes, this requires risk on our part. The risk to put ourselves out there, but as we are going into a
time of prayer I want you to also consider who took the risk to share with you their faith, that
changed your life? Who do you believe that upon the day of his return Jesus will say, ‘Well
done, good and faithful servant!...Come and share your master’s happiness!”
Let us pray: Lord you call us into this journey, a journey that leads to purpose, to assistance, and
to revelation. On this day may we be inspired to be your servants, to take the risk and share you
with others so they may experience your hope, your joy, your healing, your peace, your
kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We pray in the name of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ,