Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
November 12th, 2017
So, if I had to update the imagery offered in today’s gospel with something much more relatable to our modern culture, I’d say, imagine your cell phone. You are waiting for an important phone call. Not just a call from work, or to arrange plans, but a life changing call. News from a person who is the closest to you. A call whose impact, you know, will touch each facet of your life. The significance of this call is immeasurable. You know the call is coming but you just don’t know when. In anticipation of this call, would you charge you phone all the way? Or would you leave it at 40% and hope everything works out? Would you put the phone on vibrate and stick it in your bag hoping to hear it? Or would you set the volume to its highest level and keep the phone in your hand?
It’s this sense of being ready that is at the heart of today’s gospel passage. We know we are going to be receiving that call, it’s our job to put ourselves in a position to not only receive it but also to be sensitive to its meaning.
Often times this passage is interpreted to mean judgment. Being righteous, avoid evil, for you don’t know when you will be called to reconcile all your deeds and be judged as either good or bad. This morning, I’m going to challenge you to stretch your understanding far beyond this traditional view. Consider this: Jesus wants to give his love to us, he wants us to receive his love, then he wants us to take the love we have now received and share with everyone else.
If we prepare ourselves to receive his love. If we wait in anticipation to embrace the gift of his love, we are in a far better position to recognize it, then receive it. If we make ourselves sensitive to the presence of Christ’s love, we can see it coming and welcome it with a full and open heart.
So what does Christ’s love look like when we wait for his call with a fully charged battery? It’s like when we see others engaged in an activity or endeavor that is charitable in nature. We see these folks giving of themselves for the sole purpose of improving the lives of others. This is Christ’s love in action. Receiving his love this way might move us to participate with those already involved or to feel compassion for those being served.
Being sensitive to receiving God’s love doesn’t always mean that we are the direct recipient of his goodness, but rather opening ourselves to be the vehicle that transports his presence to others. When we see someone in need, hopefully we feel a stirring within us that at the very least draws us to compassion. When we are moved to help, to share in the pain of others, we are responding to a call to let Jesus work through us for the sake of others.
For any of this to be possible, we must remain vigilant. We must maintain a sense of readiness, awaiting the call that lets us experience Christ in a more profoundly intimate way.
This morning we experience Jesus in word and sacrament. Tomorrow lets have others experience Christ through his presence within us.