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After a long absence, the traveler returned home and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five-hundred thousand came forward bringing the additional five-hundred, saying, ‘You entrusted me with five-hundred thousand; here are five-hundred thousand more.’ “The landowner said, ‘Well done! You are a good and faithful worker. Since you were dependable in a small matter, I will put you in charge of larger affairs. Come, share my joy!’ “~ Matthew 25:19-21

The first Carolina Wren I saw was because I had received a hot-line call that one was present, hopping around under a car parked in a snowy driveway somewhere in Cape Ann, Massachusetts. I had previously heard one singing during a bird-athon, which was just as surprising at the time thirty years ago. At the time, individuals would show up here and there this far north and were beginning to exploit bird feeding stations to survive winters north of their typically warmer range. Clearly, these birds were pioneers for their species. Able to save the energy of migration, they claimed good territory in hope that a mate could eventually come along. Within a decade, the strategy paid off. They were present in every community in the state. Now, even farther north, here at my home office desk, most winter days I’m able to hear a Carolina Wren somewhere in my neighborhood.

If we could understand wren language, it is easy to imagine a group of wrens, comfortable in the Carolinas, telling that one that has decided to head north in search of a new place to call home that he is decidedly crazy. Or perhaps the more imaginative, creative types among them might applaud the risk-taking. No creative act has ever happened without risk. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” is surely the motto of every artist. For the bold creators, “we’ve never done it that way before” is not a caution, but a challenge.

In the parable of the talents, Jesus challenges us to find reward in taking risk. Two of the three took risks with the gifts entrusted to them and doubled them. One hid the gift and had nothing to show for it. Don’t get hung up on the idea of investing money, it is only a metaphor for the act of increasing our gifts. Each of us has already received boundless grace from God, the question is whether we will keep it under wraps or risk letting it loose on the world. If you trust God’s grace to sustain more than just you, then you might find that there are endless blessings in places you’ve not yet gone with people you’ve not yet met. They might even share a blessing with you, like a nice, fresh suet cake to give you what it takes to survive the winter and be the first of your kind to see the spring in a new territory.

Prayer: God, we like the here and now of the shelter of your wings. Thank you also for the gift of wings to carry us to the gifts of the there and then. Amen.


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