Amos 5:18-24 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Matthew 25:1-13
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, give us a vision of your Kingdom and show us the part you would have us play in bringing it closer. Help us to strive each day towards that goal, for your name’s sake. Amen. "Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." (vs13) When I'm confronted with this story about the bridesmaids who weren't ready when the bridegroom came, I realize it is a story about readiness. It is about readiness at any time - for what? We are urged to be ready for almost anything in our lives these days. We are continually bombarded with appeals from insurance companies to be ready for events that can happen to us unexpectedly such as accidents, sickness and even death. We are also urged to be ready for retirement - that we have the resources to see us through the years when we will not be working. "Get ready", "Prepare" are constant messages in our time. In regard to readiness, cartoonist Jules Feifer in one of his cartoons pictures a person hiding his head under a blanket, and the person says: "When I was five they made me go to school and I wasn't ready. When I was ten, they made me go to camp and I wasn't ready. When I was eighteen, they made me go to the army and I wasn't ready. When I was twenty - three they made me get married and I wasn't ready. At twenty-five, they made me have children and I wasn't ready. Now I'm fifty and I am going to stay here and I'm not coming out until I'm ready." But what is this passage in scripture asking us to be ready for? What are we advised to stay awake for? Many people have surmised that Jesus is telling us to be ready for the "Second Coming" which could happen at any time. However, I'm not sure that when Jesus told this parable he would have meant the second coming, and I don't think that he would have been talking about the end of time at all. "The kingdom is here, right before your eyes" was the message of Jesus in the Gospels. In other words, I think that Jesus was referring not to the end of time but what was happening in the present time. For us today I think that we have to be ready for what God is doing in the world and our lives today. We have to look at the world (Sin sick, and as full of evil and hatred as it may seem) and be prepared to see God's hand, because it is most surely there. I don't think that God wills all the things that happen in this world but surely God is in the midst of everything that happens. God is there working out the redemption of the world and of us. You have to be ready to see it day by day...and to participate in the things that God has planned for us in the midst of it. For this, we have to keep our eyes wide open for the presence of God - to see our lives and the world a different way. We are reminded daily in our newspapers about traffic accidents, murders, conflicts between individuals, groups and nations and the television fills our minds with images of hatred, violence, and destruction. These images that we face everyday paralyze us and seduce us to an existence in which our main concern becomes survival in the midst of a sea of sorrows. By making us think about ourselves as survivors of a shipwreck, anxiously clinging to a piece of driftwood, we gradually accept the role of victims doomed by the cruel circumstances of our lives. We need to be wide awake to be aware of where God breaks into our lives, often in unexpected ways. This is necessary if we are to be fully human and fully alive. When we become awake to the activity of God we may realize that we are called to see things differently and to act differently in the world. We may be called to love more deeply, to offer forgiveness that we have been denying, to seek spiritual nurture in many ways (the care of our souls), to pay attention to all our relationships, to be a better person and friend to others, to change in our lives what needs to be changed, and to look at each day as a gift. Some of us seem to spend our lives half-asleep. Have you noticed that when you are talking to some people they don't seem to be there. They are there but they are not all there. They are alive but they don't seem to be fully alive. The real tragedy of life is not that to die but to find that we have never lived. "When it's time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived." Henry David Thoreau Let us pray: Gracious God, in the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, help us to keep on trusting you, watching and waiting, confident that your purpose will win through and your love triumph over all. To the glory of your name. Amen.