December 10, 2019
Matthew 25:1-13 (NLT)
“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
“But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.”
In 1956, as Martin Luther King, Jr. was fighting against the evil of racial segregation in the American South, he preached a Mother’s Day sermon to his congregation at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
In his sermon, Dr. King referenced the parable of the bridesmaids while challenging his people to prepare for the great change that racial integration would bring to their communities. “If there was any foolishness on the part of the foolish virgins,” he declared, “it was complacency, and the wisdom of the wise virgins was preparation. We have a great responsibility to be prepared not only for the worst, but for the best.”
Dr. King was warning his people not to fall into the complacency of the foolish bridesmaids as they waited for justice to roll like a river in their land. This was not the time to passively accept the grim realities of their present. Instead, it was time to expect and prepare themselves for a better future.
In the parable of the bridesmaids, the wise women are distinguished from the foolish by only one thing: the wise are prepared to keep watch for the bridegroom’s arrival, while the foolish are not. N.T. Wright describes the preparation of the wise as “simply . . . being ready for the key moment.” (p. 133)
We are all waiting for a key moment.
For the bridesmaids in our story, the key moment was the arrival of the bridegroom.
Dr. King’s key moment was racial integration and equality in every aspect of American life.
During Advent, we prepare for our key moment: the day when Jesus will come in glory and make this world a place of heaven on earth. But in order to prepare for that moment, we must first prepare for this moment.
This moment is a key moment, too.
The 19th-century theologian Christoph Blumhardt wrote, “Jesus came and departed. But his resurrection means that everything in God’s kingdom is alive; in every moment there is something happening.”
In every moment there is something happening.
In every moment God’s coming is happening.
I can so easily live my life oblivious to the coming of the Lord, settling for just getting through the day instead of expecting to encounter God. But when I do prepare for his coming, I begin to recognize his presence in the seemingly insignificant moments of my ordinary days. Before I know it, all of those insignificant moments start to add up to a coming of God into my life that is unmistakably significant.
Sometimes I think that I need to make a grand gesture to God in order to truly prepare for his coming. I hear the life stories of people like Mother Teresa and I think, Maybe my life isn’t radical enough. What else should I do?
As if he could hear my question, Blumhardt writes,
“We have to begin with what we can see…One does not always have to wait for something out of the ordinary. The all-important thing is to keep your eyes on what comes from God and to make way for it to come into being here on earth.”
God doesn’t call me to make grand gestures. Instead, he simply invites me to prepare for his coming right here, right now, in the gritty reality of my life.
How do you and I prepare for the coming of Jesus?
By receiving what we can see.
By paying attention to what is coming to us from God today.
By making way for his appearing, right here, right now, in this moment.
This moment, which is the key moment.
In every moment God’s coming is happening.
May we prepare the way of the Lord.
God is here.
Lord, help me to live in the reality of your coming, right here, right now, today.
Spirit of God, breathe upon me.
- How does God appear to you in your daily life?
- How would you approach today if you knew it was full of key moments?
- How might that change the way you live with yourself, God, and others?
Song for Meditation: