“Why Our World Needs Different People”

Sermon Delivered By Rev. Dick Stetler – November 19, 2017

Centenary United Methodist Church

Proverbs 3:1-10; Matthew 25:14-30

    Our lesson today is another parable that Jesus was using to teach his listeners that there are two worlds co-existing in their experience, one that they could perceive through their five senses and the other that they could not.

    With all the avenues and venues facing people in the material world, Jesus spent most of his ministry teaching others how their lives would be different if they chose attitudes grounded in love from the world that they cannot see.

    In this parable, Jesus was teaching that people's preferences are what make them unique and one-of-a-kind.  Jesus told the story of a man that gave his three servants different amounts of gold coins.  Each of them received amounts according to his ability. 

    He gave five thousand to the first servant, two thousand to the second one and the third servant received one thousand.  The man left for a lengthy period of time after informing them, that upon his return, he would settle the accounts. What understanding can we take away from this parable?  

    When I was in high school, the head football coach of the University of Maryland came to speak to all the athletes.  He began his talk with a question:   "How many of you believe that you have the potential to go the distance and become a professional athlete?"  Seeing several hands go up, he went on to say:

Keep your dream alive.  Keep your vision in front of you every day.  Don't invest your lives in wishful thinking. Work with all your might to make whatever you are dreaming to come true.

    After talking about how healthy it was to keep their dreams alive, he began discussing the statistics of how many athletes actually do make it to the professional level.   The percentage of those who achieve their goal was one percent of one percent.

    Then he predicted the future.  In 1961, the coach said that one day men will share the stage with women when their dreams grow beyond careers in the fields of nursing, teaching and telephone operators.

    Even though the Bloomer Girl baseball teams were everywhere in the United States, the tide did not turn for female athletes until 29-year old Billy Jean King defeated 55-year old Bobby Riggs in tennis in Houston's Astrodome in 1973.

    Once the flood gates were opened, women have never looked back.  With a lot of hard work, the dream of the Suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony or Centenary's own Hilda Aiken came true.  Hilda became the first woman elected to Bermuda's Parliament in 1948.   

    Today, women are remarkable news anchors, Olympic gold medal winners, CEOs of major corporations like IBM, chief investment advisors, astronauts and United Methodist pastors.  It takes different people to move cultures toward their futures.

    Just weeks ago, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia announced various reforms for his nation.  One of them is to allow women to drive cars for the first time in their history.  Imagine that half the genius of that nation has been on hold for generations.  Change is slow, but when the dominoes begin to fall, the process is accelerated.  This is exciting to witness. 

    Today, many men and women want to rise to the calling of their own potential.  Each individual is pulled in the direction of their vision that is formed from their desires.  This vision can actually multiply into fully developed corporations.

    No matter how large or small a person's contribution, each of us plays a vital role for the future when we invest our energy in the treasure we find within ourselves. This was the point of Jesus' parable.  He knew we had different abilities.

    In every society, however, there are those who have much in common with the servant that used fear as an excuse to bury his treasure. People are free to retreat from the birth pains of entering into their adult years by choosing the path of partying, drugs, alcohol, quitting school and remaining content with jobs that earn for them the minimum wage.  They watch as their friends move on into successful careers. 

    Wasting their life's energies is not just a temptation among younger generations; there are older adults who cannot accept responsibility for managing their lives.  Someone is always to blame for why they feel and think the way they do.  Like their younger brothers or sisters, they cannot figure out which inner, wholesome preference has their name written all over it. 

    It did not matter how much each servant was given;what mattered was what they accomplished with it after their master gave them the gold coins.  Each of us has been given a life filled with treasure to do whatever we wish with what we find.   Everyone is needed, from the greatest to the least, to make a society work.

    Does punishment await those that never understood anything, never awakened and never got the point of how or what to create with their lives?  Our loving Creator would never punish anyone for experiencing their own poverty in understanding life. 

    Why would anyone deserve punishment when they never became aware that their own individual instruction manual was inside of them.  They were busy searching for what would serve their self-interest, shore up their insecurities or have fun with their friends.

    We can hardly imagine that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity basketball team.   He was a 5'10" awkward sophomore that lacked the physical skills to play the game. As he got a little older, he developed a passion to pursue basketball.  Once his vision was in place, Michael soared to become one of the greatest basketball players who ever played the game. 

    In his last season with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan earned more money than all his combined earnings during his previous thirteen years with the team.  With his shoe apparel endorsements, he earned one hundred million dollars that year. 

    Debbi Fields built a 450 million dollar company based on her recipe for a cookie.  This mother of five had no prior experience in the business community.  She was driven by a vision that her cookies would sell.  Obviously, they did.

    There are as many stories like this as there are risk-takers.  A man went to saw mills, collected their sawdust and created logs for people's fireplaces.  Another individual took wood chips and through a process created a building material similar to plywood.  His particle board is used in today's home construction.

    Here in Bermuda, Dudley Fubler's nephew, Marico Thomas, expanded his Four Star Pizza/catering business by adding doughnut shops called Glaze.   Lucinda Worrell-Stowe began baking and selling bread from her home. 

    Did you read the booklet in Thursday's Royal Gazette about D&J Construction Company celebrating its 50th Anniversary? The co-founder, Danny Fagundo, left Whitney Institute at the age of 13 to take his first job at Palm grocery store on Collector's Hill, which today is the Apothecary. He never became discouraged or admitted defeat to anything or anyone.

    Danny found the blueprints on how to become a world class contractor within himself and he and his partner built an excellent construction company with trial and error as their best teacher.  With no formal training, at the age of 18, he built his first house on the Verdmont Estate. After building another home for his sister, Danny never looked back.  

    These stories are everywhere in today's unfolding marketplace.  Today, we have many people who are modeling for everyone else why each person should trust his or her inner instincts, even though there may be no current market for the dreams and visions they are experiencing. 

    If a person wants to make a lot of money, they can do that.  If they want to fashion the future, they can do that, too, by keeping their own personal vision in front of them.  Think about what is happening today. 

    The founders of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Tesla, and Amazon have inspired an entire generation of young men and women to reach for the stars with their own visions that now will serve these major companies.  Who could have possibly imagined that the Apple corporation, founded on April 1, 1976 has grown so rapidly that its net worth is approaching one trillion dollars?

    There were no role models for the visions of these very different risk-takers. In our lifetime, what they have done for the world is enormous in bringing different people together, creating jobs and making our lives more efficient. 

    Try to imagine what the future holds for the next generation of people whose dreams and visions are currently unknown to society.  The future needs people who think differently and have learned to hold on to their inner vision.

    There are no other alternatives that will drive our lives any better than when we pay attention to what makes us different, unique and one-of-a-kind. 

Needing to be liked and accepted by others are the drivers of countless people to conform to what appears helpful to their self-esteem.  Being different often means that we will have to sing our solo when we truly believe that no one is listening.

    Never try to measure your own success!  Had Jesus done that he would have felt he had been abandoned by God and everyone else that he loved.  He remained confident in his vision for every man and woman in his present time as well as in every generation that will follow in the future. 

    What is interesting is that no particular religious beliefs are required for people to recognize the existence of a world that remains invisible to our senses.  This truth is universal and available to everyone who takes the time to locate the blueprint for their own inner vision and the source of their dream.

    For many creators, their greatest gifts to humanity may never be known during their lifetime.  Do we honestly believe that anyone living during the days of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) could have imagined that one of his paintings would sell last Wednesday for 450 million dollars?  How interesting that the painting was of Jesus.

    Jesus' message for the world was a simple one:

Create from what you have been given no matter how great or small you believe your treasure is.  When you ignore your fears and follow your dreams, the future of humanity may expand its understanding due to something that you left behind. 

    Remember the widow who put two copper coins into the Temple treasury? We do not know her name, but she has influenced the way many people think about their own generosity because that day she gave everything she had.

    This is the process of how Jesus' life and teachings have reached our generation thousands of years later. His contribution did not end at his crucifixion. His vision continued in the minds of people who have learned how creative loving energy dramatically influences how they live. This is how humanity is evolving in its understanding. People need to give a voice to what makes them different.  Therein lies their genius. 



Loving, ever present God, too often we find ourselves struggling with the tension between our faith and our fear.  We come to you with wishes and often your voice is silent.  We want our adventures and experiences to bring us joy and many times they do not. How wonderful it is when hindsight brings understanding and wisdom to why life unfolds as it does. Thank you for helping us to discover that the bitter pills of life often become the best medicine.  Thank you for guiding us to understand that our needs will be met when we invest our energy in helping to make our world a more wholesome place for men and women to live.  Amen.  



Eternal God, we are so grateful for these moments together.  There are times when our worship experience reminds us that we are your sons and daughters. We also can be reminded that instant forgiveness allows us to lay aside so much of what we carry within ourselves.

Each of us always experiences stretch marks in our consciousness when we try what we have never done, when we take challenging steps of faith, when we feel vulnerable or when we experience the uncertainty of thinking that we do not have the skills to cope with what is now confronting us. 

God, thank you for the life and teachings of Jesus.  He inspires us to live more confidently in a realm that often fills our physical senses and emotions with what obscures the light of your presence within us.  Thank you for the timeless values he pointed to.  Thank you for what happens to us when we have the courage to hold on to those values in the midst of today’s overwhelming challenges.  With the season of Thanksgiving upon us, we have so much to celebrate.

Inspire us to make peace our collective response, particularly during a time when change is rapidly accelerating all around us.  Let us truly stitch into our lives the attitudes and responses that Jesus taught us so that the fabric we create will reveal the angel that lives within us. The news-events of our day come and go but all of us have only one life to perfect during all the testing that comes with daily living. We pray that the end result of our lives will always create a sense of community where love for one another reigns. We pray these thoughts through the spirit of Jesus, the Christ, who taught us to say when we pray . . .