Sermon 3rd September 2023
What are your Gifts and Talents?
Exodus 3:1-15 and Matthew 16:21-end
Who are you? A wife, mother, sister, daughter, husband, father, brother, son? A home maker, secretary, executive, gardener, teacher?
Who are you really? When you take off your various hats and step aside from being purely defined by your relationships. When you pray, when you kneel before Jesus, who are you really? Who has God made you to be?
This is a searching question that demands more than a pithy answer – it probably takes a lifetime to work out in fact.
But we are in good company.
We see in our readings today that both Moses and Peter struggle to acknowledge or understand their role in God’s plan – and who God has made them to be.
We see Moses having run away from Egypt after killing a man, effectively a fugitive in the desert, when God speaks to him from a burning bush.
And Moses words – who am I that I should face the scary Pharoah, Who am I? This man, hiding from the world, a coward, a murderer – who am I?
But God refocuses him. It is not about who you were – it is about who I am God says.
God’s plan for Moses is mind boggling; to go back into the lion’s den, to face the big oppressor, to declare freedom for the slaves – no mean feat.
Moses, God says in effect, this is not about you but about me. I am who I am. You are who you are because of me and what I can do through you. You just have to be obedient and trust me. I will be with you.
God needed Moses and Moses needed to let God work through him to accomplish his plans.
And then we turn to Jesus and Peter.
Jesus, the ultimate role model for surrendering to God’s plan. And Peter; who denied Jesus, was impetuous, eager, hot headed and often wrong. But on whom God decided to build his church – Peter the rock.
So with Peter and Moses we have two role models that are fallible, flawed, self-doubting and have made massive mistakes in their lives. But in their core, in their essence they had talents and gifts that they eventually discovered and used for God’s glory.
When I put this board up on Wednesday people took one look at it and went – well I don’t have any of those!
I beg to differ! Over my last 17 months here I have witnessed and been the recipient of so many of your gits and talents.
God has blessed us uniquely with our own special talents – whether that’s baking, organising or mending. It might be hospitality, listening to others. We might be good with figures or creative with our hands. God has blessed us abundantly.
I might speak for myself in this, but we are quite good at looking at others and marvelling at their talents and thinking ‘I couldn’t possibly do that’!
I know I do. I look at people like Debbie Skeil or Eliza and wish I was more creative and liked sewing. But that’s not my talent.
I look at Guy and wish I enjoyed cooking – but that’s not my talent.
We are so good at spotting what others are good at and less so at appreciating our own. Over coffee, can I encourage you to tell someone what you think their talents are – you may surprise them!
We are all part of God’s plan, just as much as Peter or Moses were part of God’s plan. And he has plans for your talents in building his kingdom here.
There is an old Jewish proverb that goes like this –
“before his death, Rabbi Zusya said, ‘in the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?’” Why was I not Kia, why were you not Guy, Sally.
God has a plan for our life that is as unique as we are.
As Francis of Assisi lay dying he said ‘I have done what is mine; may Christ teach you what is yours’.
As we sit together quietly, let us take a moment of stillness and think about our talents, what we love to do, what we are good at. And then let us offer them to God and ask him how we can best serve him with what he has given us.
Rev’d Kia Pakenham 3rd September 2023