“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. NRSV
Jesus tells a parable of the Kingdom of heaven.
Any time we hear one about the Kingdom of heaven we are learning something about the RELATIONSHIP with God.
Our relationship with God is..
(1) an invitation for everyone.
- Ten fingers.. some RSVP, others don’t
(2) a relationship we can share with God now.
- Wedding Party share celebration.
- Have responsibilities in the waiting.
- Wait and work together for the groom.
(3) Something not forced upon us.
- Some live prepared and ready
- Some wait, some don’t think or care.
(4) Time-line of God’s choosing, not ours.
- The job of the bridesmaids was to confirm the consummation of the marriage contract. Tradition of celebrating the work of the worthy. Bridesmaids can’t do the work of the bride and groom. Groomsman and bridesmaids follow the direction as it is not their day, not their wedding, but is their party and family.
(5) Worth staying awake to celebrate.
- The heart of the story is about the moments of absence, distance, brokenness, sin, emptiness, and loss. (The reality of the absence of the oil)
OIL is the blessing: At my first church, on my first Sunday I saw a gallon of olive oil behind the pulpit. Anointing was not part of my worship tradition at that point in my ministry. I was scared to death that someone wanted to be anointed and I would not know what to do. I was relieved to find out they had a spaghetti dinner the week before and someone had forgotten that gallon jug in the sanctuary.
Through out the scriptures OIL is used for blessing, setting apart someone for service or leadership, making an offering holy, or healing some one who was ill or broken in spirit or sin.
OIL is a sign of SALVATION in this text. It is given to all, but some don’t take it, trust it or mature in it.
In the past 22 years since my first church my faith and practice of ministry has matured and taken turns and twists that make me the “branches” connected the vine of Christ.
The promise of Salvation that I claimed at age 13 has not changed, but my awareness of its power, depth and love has become exponential by comparison.
In the past 22 years how many people have we served, taught, feed, clothes, blessed, visited, comforted, forgiven and loved? Thousands I hope!
This passage is about those who have given up, never found their hearts warm enough to catch on fire, much less burned out…
Here is the real fulcrum of the see-saw. If we sat around the church all the time and looked out the doors and windows pointing out all those poor lost souls in the mean bad world, but never reach out to show them the emptiness of their lamps before the wedding begins.
Even if you and I are not ready to sit on the street corner on December of next year for the World to end, it is clear that the great disasters, wars, spiritual battles and economic chaos that it is usually at the bottom of the well we find God in powerful ways.
My cousin Arnold, showed his new bridge how much he loved her when he climbed down the bottom of the well to rescue her cat. He showed her grace beyond the call of duty when the cat jumped back in the next day. But on third time the cat jumped in, you have to ask the question: “Does that cat just want to be left alone?”
We can’t make anyone have faith, come to church nor change their behavior if they don’t want it first.
But were are not at the bottom the well, not at the end of time nor at the end of grace.
The very fact that Jesus tells and teaches this parable he is saying that it is not too late. The wedding has just started.
Some folks have not opened the invitation and that is what we can do.
Some folks have not picked up their blessing/oil and that is ours to share before it is too late.
I have a charge for you that I could not know two decades ago, but I know for some fools we don’t have time to wait any longer.
Take your hand, for every finger you have left, write down the name of a person:
- that you know does not know the love of God,
- that is lost in grief or worry or fear.
- That you know is angry or disappointed,
- That is scared confused or frustrated..
Post their names on your bathroom mirror, in your wallet, on the dash of your car, in you agenda book or family calendar.
Pray for them every day. Pray for the words and opportunities to invite them to the love, home, hope, trust, joy, peace, fresh-start, blessing and appreciation that Christ holds for us.
Pray also for you to be the OIL distributer for them. Every time you see the price of GAS change, that is one more opportunity to BLESS and REACH as changing world around you.
If you don’t, you will hear the beating at the door of judgment and know they could be at the party if you had helped them see the emptiness of their living. As long as we have breath and life we have the responsibility to bless..
ANOINTING: You are blessed to be a blessing.