What can we do to prepare so that we’re ready if our neighbor needs us?

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Sermons and audio

Women carrying lit torches walking toward an open doorThe Gospel reading this week, the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids, is not one of my favorites. That’s probably just my problem, and should in no way reduce the seriousness of the message that Jesus communicates to us in it. Jesus is warning us, as he often does, that we should be prepared for him to come unexpectedly, even in the middle of the night, and to be ready to greet him when he does.

In this parable neighbors are divided in to two groups, one which has prepared and one which has not. The ones who prepared for an unexpected delay (or turn of events) are called “wise” and the ones who didn’t are called “foolish”. And if entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven depended on one passing a test or doing a good work, then this would all make sense to me. But the thing is, the Kingdom of Heaven is only available to us because of God’s gracious gift; not because we do something to deserve it. And if God is going to gracious like that to us, sinners though we are, why should we, the “wise”, be gracious to our neighbors who made a bad choice?

I explore this question in the sermon, making note that it might be asking too much of the text to fully contain all of the teaching about the mechanics of our salvation in a short parable about “being ready” for the Lord to return. But even given that, I want to invite you to grapple with the text rather than sit passively to receive a gift from it. The willingness to grapple with the text, to struggle with it, is often a sign of our willingness to enter into a relationship with it. An unwillingness to struggle with something can mean that we’re starting to worship it… and only God is worthy of that sort of worship. (And God seems to want us to grapple with God as well.)

You can find the direct link to the video here.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

1 Comment

  1. galedoubtfulguest says

    I find all of the end of the age parables very unsettling. The one where the wedding guest is there without the correct clothing, the one about one will be taken and one will be left and this one. I can only imagine that is the point. I’m not sure I understand why entirely as Jesus was always saying, don’t be afraid.

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