In lives fully lived, there exist both risks taken to achieve some greater good as well as risks avoided with the regrets that inevitably follow. Our days are filled with both adventure and caution. And while “nothing ventured, nothing gained” is often simply heard as a financial maxim related to the importance of receiving a good return on financial investments, “venturing” can also be applied to our practices of faith in our daily living.
The parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) speaks of this “venturing,” but often this reading is relegated to fodder for annual fund drives as this reading comes up in the lectionary around the fall. (A closer reading shows that it speaks of the end times, the concerns of which are often replaced by next year’s budget for many clergy.)
This parable, among other things, is about three servants who are given large sums of money to manage in the master’s absence. The first is given five talents and returns with ten. The second is given two talents and returns with four. The third is given one. Out of fear, the servant buries it in the ground and is admonished by the master when he returns it as it is.
Here, Jesus invites us to be his disciples, to live our lives as fully as possible by investing them, by risking, by expanding the horizons of our responsibility and experiences. It is not so much believing ideas about him as it is following him. It is to be bold and brave, to reach high and care deeply.
This was recently illustrated to me in the life of a beloved parishioner. After a year of recovery from foot surgery, she was released to live again. After a walk in the woods during one of our church’s “Walking in Wonder” mornings, she planned for a grand return to the “pickleball” court, for in part, this was a constant driver for her hard work in recovery and a reward she deeply looked forward to.
I’m sad to say that she suffered another injury rather quickly that day, but one she will overcome. I find her bravery and her willingness to get back in the game as soon as possible very indicative of the first two servants in the parable.
My prayer for all of us is that when we finally find relief from the necessary social distancing we have all experienced over the last year, we will be as quick to show love and friendship and joy as Brigitte, who has delighted me with the invitation to share this with you. God bless you now, and God bless you with the courage to share the abundance that God has shown you with the rest of the world.
Father Wil Keith +
Rector, Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island, SC