When all is said and Done,

Will We Hear the Words:

‘Well Done?’

This Address, by His Grace, Bishop DEMETRI,

was delivered on Friday, March 7, 2003, at

the Midwest Spring Gathering in

Livonia, Michigan

I. Intro:

Christ is in our midst!

I greet you with joy on behalf of our Beloved Primate, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, as well as on our behalf. I also welcome you to St. Mary’s Basilica on behalf of Fr. George, Christa and her committee and all the faithful here in Livonia. I pray that your time here will be well spent seeking the things of God!

The theme of my presentation is:

When all is said and Done,

Will We Hear the Words:

‘Well Done?’

A. Why are you here?

Let me ask you this question: Why are you here? This is a very important question. Not only for this weekend; but in every step of life! We should always be asking ourselves – ‘Why does God have me here? At this place? At this time?

The answer to this question requires us to have a life that is in touch with God! Indeed, we are to live a life like God. How do we live like God? St. Paul tells us:

[Christ] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men…He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”[1]

What does this mean to us? Simply this: we are called to be servants, just as Christ was a servant to us! Indeed, we must be servants to Him and each other. As we read in St. Matthew’s Gospel, God has given each one of us talents.[2] Thus, the question I put before you this evening is:

Are you using your talents wisely for your Master? Or are you, like the wicked servant in the parable, burying what Jesus Christ expects you to put to work for Him?

II. How are you using your talents?

The Holy Church urges us to listen to the words of Christ, and then act upon them. The parables are not simply stories. Rather, they are vivid word pictures by which we are to compare our own lives.

The Master in the parable was not pleased when His servant told Him he had not used the talent he had been given. That servant feared His Master’s authority, for he “knew” the Master to be a “hard” man.[3] God, Who is the Master, called him a wicked and lazy servant — and cast him out of the Kingdom!

A. Are you hiding a talent?

Are you hiding the talents God has given you? God created human beings in His own image and likeness. Humanity was the only part of the physical creation given the prerogative of thinking, planning, designing and bringing to fruition the results of those creative abilities. We are to become part of the supreme creating Family of Almighty God. Of course, we cannot create from nothing, as did God. Yet, with what God has already given us — we can be creative!

B. To prepare to be creators, we must be learning to be creative.

To prepare to be co-creators – co-workers with God — we must learn to be creative!

Quite often we nurture ideas, thoughts and concepts that seem to have some degree of merit, but we fail to act upon or follow through with them. For one reason or another, we fail to exercise our potential to contribute fruitfully to areas where God has given us responsibility.

St. Paul reminds us:

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world . . . and God has chosen the weak and the base. . . and the things which are despised” [4]

This is wonderful news! God has chosen us – we who are weak, foolish and base! He empowers us with His own virtues to complete whatever task He puts before us. We must take God at His word and trust Him. If we are not careful, we can be deceived into thinking we are totally useless and incapable of producing any good fruit. We can become fearful, just as did the servant in the parable of the talents.

III. We all have talents to use and cultivate:

God calls each one of us to Himself.[5] You are not some accident of events, or simply the product of biology. Nor is God the great clock maker who makes the clock, winds it up, and then sets it aside. Rather, you are the result of God’s design, of His creativity, of His continuing purpose.

God told the Prophet Jeremiah:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”[6]

You see, there are no chance callings. In advance God thought out who He wanted each of us to be. Then He equipped us – He has given us the talents — to be able to accomplish what He sets before us in this life. Yes, we have free-will; which means we must choose who we will serve and who we will believe. God has equipped you to do marvelous things. But will we?

God had an idea — a thought, an effective, saving, and life giving concept — and He is bringing that idea to fruition. Each of us, as part of His adopted Family, has the potential to be an active part of God’s plan of salvation. We have all been given god-like abilities with which we can contribute to God’s work on this planet.

A. Absolute Responsibility to use our Talent:

But we must understand: What God has given us is a potential only! Our life is not written in stone. The Scriptures tell us that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing from above. Yet, we must choose to work with those blessings, to mature our talents and use them for the glory of God!

If we are not “using” our creative talents now, in a godly way, we will not receive the blessing of our Master. We are in jeopardy of becoming unprofitable servants. If you refuse to follow God, or if you underestimate yourself, draw back and become fearful to present that which God has given you the ability to produce – then you truly have buried in the dirt the gifts of God.

Our Lord Christ encouraged the development of natural abilities. In the parable of the Talents Christ says to the faith servants:

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”

Jesus was pleased that the servant was a thinking servant. He accepted with joy the contributions offered. He encouraged such faithfulness with a reward.

B. How can we cultivate and grow our Talents?

You may say, “Yes, Sayidna, we must use our talents: but where, how, and with whom?” Let me give you some direction.

1. In all relationships

First, we understand that within the Church we can all nurture and cultivate our God-given talents.

a. Within the Church:

The Church, as the family of God – His holy body of believers — gives us ample opportunity to exercise our spiritual gifts. While the Church is perfect, those of us who reside within its protection are not perfect. Hopefully, however we move closer to spiritual wholeness every day.

But, the truth is that each of us needs as much practice as possible at being holy. How do we get such practice? By exercising our spiritual gifts in communion with Christ: this is an exercise in holiness. I have good news for you: In the Body of Christ we have the opportunity to get much practice; for here we find both the best and worst of our humanity.

Not only that, but if we look around us we see many needs: there are brothers and sisters in Christ who really need someone to reach out to them. We just heard this past Sunday about the Last Judgment. What did Jesus tell us? “What ever you do to the least of these my brethren, you do unto me.”

i. Using our talents for others:

Christ is teaching us what it means to exercise spiritual gifts. This is an important lesson: Our talents are not for our own prestige or honor; rather they are for the good of those around us! Indeed, those who stood on Christ’s right were not aware of any good that they had done. Yes, they had fed the hungry; clothed the naked; visited the sick; brought the Gospel message of compassion to those in prison; and so on. But, they were only doing what came naturally to them. Those who have the love of Christ in their hearts, naturally reflect that same love to others.

ii. Love as the Greatest Talent:

Here, we draw closer to a understanding of spiritual talents and their use! An essential element, and truly the path which leads to the self-discovery of our spiritual giftings, is related to first allowing the love of Christ to grow to overflowing in our hearts.

As the Apostle Paul tells us, good works — without love — are worthless. The love required of Christians is not natural in our fallen humanity. It is not emotion; nor is it sentimentality. Rather, God’s love can be said to be a reflection of God Himself! In fact, St. John the Theologian tells us “God is love!”

We must realize that God willingly makes His divine love – His Divine Energies — available to us. We must struggle, we must pray, we must desire to acquire His love above all things. Then, like a gentle shower, or even perhaps as a driving rain, God’s love descends upon us, enriching us, awakening us! Once we acquire it we begin to understand that love is the greatest gift, the greatest talent, anyone can possess.

iii. Do we Love?

Do you really want to know how to exercise your spiritual talents? Then ask yourself this question: How much do we really love each other? Or perhaps we should ask, who do we know here this evening that we do not love?

Jesus told us that the world will recognize that we are His Disciples by our love for each other! When the world looks at you and me – does it see us loving each other with god-like compassion? This is the most wonderful talent that we can have. And everyone, no matter who they may be can exercise this gift of love. Our Church family gives us one of the most wonderful opportunities in the world – to love, even those who may not love us! In doing this we greatly please God.

Moreover, we need to understand that every relationship we have – whether in the Church, or outside of the Church –offers us a moment of godly creativity in the exercise of our spiritual talents.

b. Employee/Employer:

Notice, for instance, that in the book of Ephesians, St. Paul gives instruction concerning employer-employee relationships. He tells servants to be obedient to their Masters, in order to please God.[7]

As employees with the knowledge of God’s plan of salvation, regardless of where we work, we become employees of Jesus Christ, actually serving in God’s work. We become part of the instrument that God is using to evangelize a dying world with the good news of His Kingdom.

The same is true of employers: those in authority must be careful to never squelch good ideas, enthusiasm or desire, through misguided application of that authority. Leaders should approach any such situation as Jesus Christ did when the productive servants brought increased talents to Him. He is pleased to have thinking employees and servants, thinking, concerned human beings — all working with Him toward the overall goal of salvation and union with God.[8]

c. Parents and children

and let us not forget about our other family: our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and extended family. There are many opportunities within this group to live-out the talents of love and obedience. For instance, the husband-wife team has an obligation to the children in the family. During their formative years, a child should be encouraged to contribute to the family sphere. He or she must be made to recognize they are an integral part of the overall picture.

Too often the parental tendency, for whatever reason, is to ignore or ridicule suggestions from a young family member. This can be devastating to the pliable young mind that desires recognition and acceptance.

In Ephesians we read, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”[9]

Children are a gift from God. We must make sure we love, care, cherish and nurture them in their god-given talents.

But, lest we overemphasize one relationship at the expense of the other, we need to understand that children are also given an exhortation that will lead to development of real character:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’ [10]

Listening to and following this sacred direction we cause growth in the spiritual life for all who heed it.

We could continue this way looking at all our relationships: with friends, neighbors, extended family, and even those who hate and abuse us. God has set forth a clear and decisive path for each of our lives. But we must listen to Him; and we must choose to walk upon that path.

IV. What is your part?

My Beloved, God began a marvelous plan in which each of us is destined to play an important role. The answer, then, is to recognize the ultimate demand for the development of our god-given personal talents. If we are to become co-workers with God, we must be ready, willing and able to use, for His glory, what He has given to us.

We must realize that God created us because the world needs us. When we work for God we must realize that our efforts will produce happiness in the lives of others — we must realize that we are a necessary part of the Body of Jesus Christ. We have no excuse for hiding our talents or claiming to be devoid of talents, for being created in the image of the all-talented God necessitates that we be talented!

Finally, my beloved, if we are faithful in developing our talents — preparing ourselves for maximum service — we will hear the words:

“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”[11]

May Christ’s Holy Name be blessed!