[reprinted from June 21, 2010]
â€“ Henry Neufeld
1Then again the kingdom of heaven can be illustrated by 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Now five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps, but didn’t take any extra oil. 4But the wise ones took oil in containers along with their lamps. 5So the bridegroom was delayed, and they became drowsy and all went to sleep. 6And in the middle of the night there was a shout, “Look! It’s the bridegroom! Go out to meet him.” 7Then all the virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise ones, “Give us some of your oil, because our lamps have gone out. 9But the wise virgins answered, “Never! There won’t be enough for all of us. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.” 10But as they went to buy oil, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding, and the door was shut. 11Afterward, the remaining virgins came and said, “Lord! Lord! Let us in!” 12But he answered, “I tell you truly, I don’t know you.” 13So watch, because you don’t know the day or the hour. Â Â Â Matthew 25:1-13 (HN)
We need to be ready when the bridegroom comes! That’s a good message to get from this parable. It’s also a good â€œmorningâ€ parable, telling us to get moving and be on the ball. (OK, some of you are probably not morning people and lots of cheerful yelling early in the morning doesn’t help get you moving. You can come back to this later in the day.)
If we shift our focus just a little bit, this parable tells us several things about life as Christians.
1. Our life as Christians is not just about the end. While the goal is to meet the bridegroom, our lives consist of being ready all the time. Christianity is not something we can pick up and drop as it is convenient.
2. It’s not good enough just to have lamps. We have to take action to make our light shine. We can share our faith just by our actions, but if we don’t also take action to see that the light shines steadily and shines in the right place. A friend of mine recently participated in a candlelight walk through a park. Afterward, he was fascinated by the way people carried their candles. Some held them in front of their face. Others held them low and ahead of them. He went back to the park and tried the various positions. The one that worked was holding the candle above his head, shining the light around. I think we can learn something about our personal, spiritual light from that experiment.
3. All of us slip sometimes. The question is whether we can get the lamp lit up again and get going. This isn’t about five virgins who slept and five who stayed awake. It’s about ten who slept and only five who were ready to get up again and get moving. You may have trouble getting started in the morning. That’s not something bad; everybody has their bad times. The question is what you do with the good ones.
4. Some opportunities move right past us. If we don’t move when the opportunity is available, it may pass us by.
God is a God of opportunities. If you slept through the last one, be watching for the next.
Keep Your Lamps written by Andre Thomas & sung by the SC All-State Choir (1994)Â