Rev. Andrew Cunnington
22nd September 2019
The One Who Had Just a Single Talent

If we all put our minds to it – I believe we can still prevent it happening.

Because I don’t like it one little bit and I’m sure you are of the same mind.

Just because he wasn’t judged as having the same “ability” as the other two – it doesn’t mean he should face this dreadful fate of being thrown into the darkness where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

All he did was – well, heir on the cautious side. He didn’t mean any harm.

I couldn’t care two hoots about the goody goodys who went off and worked with the little pile talents they had been given and were sumptuously rewarded. Good luck to them.

But what about this guy who was just given a single talent. For there must have been a moment of decision for him. There he stood with that one coin in his hand wondering what he ought to do with it. And we see him go off with a spade in his hand flexing his muscles for a big dig.

I think we should run after him and say “Please don’t do it! Don’t bury that single coin! You could do more than you think”

I loved being around in the parish during the month of August. Things are quieter. You can take time when normally you’d rush . And with no choir at our main service – I could take back the job that once was mine. The job that David Field does. Put the hymn numbers up on the boards.

That was my job when I was a choir boy.

I was Deputy Head Choir Boy in those days. Oh yes!

Truth was there were only two boys in the choir. Me and the head boy Christopher Benson.

As Deputy Head Chorister, my job was to put up the hymn numbers and open all the choir members hymn books at the number of the first hymn – so that when they come in, they just have to pick up the book and sing!

But there was a dreadful day about that. I put the hymn number on the board up for 269 – Hill of the North Rejoice – but I opened the hymn books for the choir at 170 The Spacious Firmament on high – so that the congregation sung one thing and the choir another.

I don’t know how it happened. I didn’t do it deliberately. I know that I was distraught afterwards. This was my job and I had bungled it , and sure enough our Choirmaster called me over and very gently told me that perhaps this was not the job for me and Christopher Benson, along with all his other important duties – would take it on.

Maybe now you will understand why I feel so passionately for the servant who had his one talent taken away – for that servant was me!

Last week we started to think about the call of St Matthew and how Jesus used every part of himself to call Matthew to a different way of life.

With his eyes he saw him. With his feet he walked over to him. With his mouth he called him and with his hand he raised him up.

He called Matthew to a way of life that challenged the status quo all around him, for the first thing Jesus did was to go and have a meal with his former tax collecting cronies -causing the religious rulers to be up in arms about such behaviour.

And in not so many words Jesus used the opportunity to tell them that their rules and their priorities and their traditions meant nothing to him – if it meant that mercy did not hold sway.

If it meant that you were prevented from bringing the best out of people – even those who can’t even put hymn numbers up properly.

Because that’s the definition of mercy that I am working with.

He called Matthew from the safe ground of tax collecting to the risky ground of discipleship.

From sitting in his one familiar place – to walking with the Lord and not ever really knowing what would happen next. Except that this idea of mercy would be spread like gold dust wherever they went.

And whilst Matthew left it all behind and followed Jesus into that new place – our friend with the one coin remained on safe ground and literally buried his talent away in a place that was close to home.

As we work out the character of our mission as St Matthew’s Church we do it by listening to the needs of those around us and we meet those needs as servants of Christ inspired by worship and fed by the sacrament. Using the talents he has given us.

And more often than not this means having the courage to dig down deep to see what it might be that we have let remained hidden underground – either because we assumed we were not good enough – or someone has told us that we are not good enough.

I think each of us has buried talent which might be contrary to what we thought defined us, but which is now crying out to be used.

What makes St Matthew’s the place it is – is that many have done that very thing and dug down deep to unearth possibilities for following that may have hitherto lay unearthed. I think it has been true for me and for every member of the staff team too – in one way or another.

And looking again at the elements of our Mission Action Planning – gives us the chance to say – have we got this right. Are there things we should be doing that we are not doing – because we are aware of new needs – or because we are aware of dug down deep talents within ourselves that we scarcely dare to acknowledge.

Our calling to live out the five marks of mission. teach, proclaim, respond transform and care for creation – with you as a member of the church and a talent in your hand – no longer to be buried – how might this shape the life of our church as we move on.

The Choirmaster looked at me after he had relieved me of my duties with the hymn board.

“Because I have spoken to Mr Evans – he was our welsh vicar – and he agrees with me that you should read the lesson from time to time – we think you have the voice for it and if we work on your confidence – I know you can do it.

Now – back in those days – only the Churchwardens read the lessons – Mr Rogers – Davis and Mr Strong – Sunday after Sunday. None of this rota with different people each week, and no women. But now the wardens would be sharing the task with a child.

“What about Christopher Benson…” I began “ Is he going to read the lesson too”

“No” said our Choirmaster “Christopher has many strengths – but lesson reading is not one of them – let him put the hymn numbers up”, and he gave me a wink.

Without that encouragement – where would I be. Without that push to dig down deep – what direction might life had taken. Where can a single word of encouragement that you might say to another – be as life changing as Matthew’s calling.

And where is it that God might want to push you as you look down at the single talent in your hand and wonder whether you need to fetch your spade.

We have translated the 5 marks of mission into 4 areas which define what we are about here.

Worship and Nurture


Community engagement


If you did not do this last week or are still deliberating about your response – please use the coffee time after the service to look at those boards and using the post it notes you’ve been given to put something up on the sheets relating to those areas in the light of what these words of mine might be saying to you – or something burning inside you which needs to be expressed – about your discipleship or the priorities we set as a church here.

Our PCC will consider all that is put up at a special meeting next month.

It was about six years after my promotion to reading that I plucked up the courage to go and see the curate – the Vicar was far too scary – and at the age of 14 – to say to him “I know I wouldn’t be good enough, but I just want to ask – what do you have to do to be a Vicar”

So maybe there’s something stirring around inside you that can’t be put on a post it note – but you need to quietly chat about because it seems a bit foolish, too presumptuous.

Here’s the scary Vicar – there’s the curate and there others of us to…

For his call to follow is surely lifted from Matthew’s story into your story and mine.

MATTHEW 25: 14-28