Day 234 | Sunday, 8 November 2020
The assigned Scripture lessons for this the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost are: Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 78:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 and Matthew 25: 1-13.
Matthew 25:1-13 CEB Parable of the ten young bridesmaids
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten young bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and the other five were foolish. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but didn’t bring oil for them. 4 But the wise ones took their lamps and also brought containers of oil.
5 “When the groom was late in coming, they all became drowsy and went to sleep. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Look, the groom! Come out to meet him.’
7 “Then all those bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 But the foolish bridesmaids said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps have gone out.’
9 “But the wise bridesmaids replied, ‘No, because if we share with you, there won’t be enough for our lamps and yours. We have a better idea. You go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 But while they were gone to buy oil, the groom came. Those who were ready went with him into the wedding. Then the door was shut.
11 “Later the other bridesmaids came and said, ‘Lord, lord, open the door for us.’
12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore, keep alert, because you don’t know the day or the hour.
Theme God comes to us. That is a central affirmation of the Christian faith. We ought therefore to be prepared for the arrival of God into our lives, to be expectant and hopeful. Although the arrival of God into our lives is a gift that is unpredictable, it is not unexpected. God comes to us.
The way I see it, you can hear today’s parable of the wise and the foolish young women in at least two ways. Maybe you hear this as a somber warning. “Christians, wake up! Stay on your toes! Be alert!”
Somehow it seems fitting to tell this parable of the wise and foolish maidens here at the end of the church year. Where are we? Are we waiting for the arrival of God in a time when God seems far away, or are we experiencing God’s presence? What should be our proper focus? Is this the end of the year, or its beginning?
The parable warns us, “Be prepared. Without warning, often in the dead of night, when it is very dark and you have difficulty seeing your way, just when you least expect it, the Lord of the Banquet arrives, and then there will be a test for you. And it will be revealed whether you are prepared to respond to him and serve him or not.”
And the parable could be heard in another way. It could be read not so much as a warning, a threat, but very good news. Embedded in this parable is a gracious promise: Though today you may be frustrated with the inactivity of God in your life – be patient. The Lord promises to come to you. Though you may be tired of waiting for deliverance, though you may have earnestly prayed for the living God to be present to you in a vital, an undeniably real way – take heart. Though you may be uncertain just what God wants you to do in your life, take heart, God has work for you to do and will eventually call upon you to do it. By our human standards, God may be moving too slowly. When we are in pain or difficulty, any wait can seem too long. But be well assured, our God is a living God. Our God keeps God’s promises. And our God has promised to come to you.
Prayer Come, Lord Jesus, break into our lives when we need you the most, speak words to us that no one else cares enough about us to say, call upon us to do the tasks that you have for us.
Come, Lord Jesus, especially when we least expect you, even when we may not want to be with you, come, Lord Jesus.
Come, Lord Jesus, and bless us with your presence, breathe your Holy Spirit upon us, and enable us to be and to do more than ever we could if left by ourselves. Amen