- What feelings does the story of the 10 bridesmaids cause us to have and who do we relate to in the story?
- What would we change in our lives after hearing the parable of the 10 bridesmaids?
- How do we balance Jesus’ stark challenge to Social Action at the end of Matt25 with the assurance of salvation?
Today we especially remember the sacrifice made in time of war, by those who would go in our place, who shield us from the worst that this world has to offer. Who shield us from the blind hatred and rage that can turn nation against nation and country against country.
It is also appropriate for us to remember the sacrifice of the men and women who take responsibility for safeguarding our way of life. A sacrifice made by others for our benefit, in this church, where we worship the God who made the ultimate sacrifice for us, who stood between us and the consequences of our negative choices.
In recognising the sacrifice that Jesus made we also recognise and validate the sacrifice made by our loved ones, and by those who do not know but who have laid down their lives so that we can live a better life.
A key part of our ability to work for a better world, to live a better life, to be able to lay down our lives for others, is in the belief that there is more to life than what we can see now.
As Paul, the writer of Thessalonians tells us, that there will be a time when our hope for a better world will be realized. That death will be shown to not be the end it appears to be now. When those who have died will have life restored to them and where Jesus will restore the world to peace Justice and love, wars will end and hatred and violence and suffering will be defeated.
But we need to live in readiness for this second chance, for this better life, and so Jesus tells us the story of the 10 bridesmaids to warn us to be prepared.
Wedding celebrations in those days could last for several days and be spread over several locations, for example they might have a ceremony and meal at the Brides house, and then a night time procession to the groom’s house lit by the bridesmaids lamps. It all sounds pretty good.
But some of the bridesmaids don’t bring enough oil, and when the groom is delayed they all fall asleep and those who have not brought extra run out of oil.
Instead of being ready for the Bridegroom, they have to run off and find some more oil, and they miss the party.
You might think the Bridegroom was a bit harsh in not letting them in, but parables are designed to make a specific point and the point Jesus is making is about the need to be ready, to be prepared. If they shared the oil then they all would not have enough oil, both the prepared and unprepared would run out and spoil the wedding.
The point of the parable is that we cannot borrow faith, God gift’s it to us. But what we do with God’s gift is up to us. Do we practice our faith, do we exercise it? We stand or fall on the basis of what we have done with our own faith, our own relationship with God. Life is short and we need to be getting ourselves ready.
It is easier than you might think, after this parable in Matthew Jesus tells the parable of the talents, which makes the point that doing something with what God has given you is better than doing nothing, and follows it with the story of the sheep and the goats, where he explains that how we treat one another and especially those who are worse off than us, will be a way of showing who has lived up to God’s call for us.
It is easier than you might think to live up to God’s call. Jesus summed it up with Love God, and love your neighbour.
Time is short, we need to make the most of what God has given us. – talents
The foolish bridesmaids didn’t do anything particularly wrong, they didn’t really do anything at all, they relate to People who hear God’s call but do nothing, those who are invited to the kingdom of God but do not prepare
It is a warning to those who think they have done ‘enough’ to get into the kingdom of God
It is easy to stay out of the kingdom of God, out of the action and work of God in this world. We do nothing. We ignore the suffering, the loneliness, the injustice faced by others To stay in it we respond, we do something, we step up to the plate, to the task in hand, the job in front of our eyes.
We rightly recognise as heroes, those who have given their lives to keep us safe, but there is also an opportunity for us now to be heroes. We can also offer our lives, not to die but to live our lives in the best way possible, by helping those in need, by building a better world, a more caring world.
The real response to the call of God, to the example set before us of sacrifice, is to live our lives in expectation, in anticipation of something better, and to spend our lives making sure that we have done what we can to make it come about.
At the end of these Parables, Jesus surprised his listeners by linking judgement to our ability to enact social justice in our communities, to feed the hungry, to clothe the poor, to meet the needs of those around us. This is our calling, this is our duty. But the listeners would have been shocked, they thought they were fine, that they had an automatic right to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus says you come into the kingdom of heaven by helping to build it.
So if you hear God’s call, if you sense that God is wanting you to act. If you recognise in your Spirit a desire for justice and right. If you see things that are wrong and you can help put them right, take action, do it.
If you sense God’s presence, asking you to be involved by helping others. Then follow it up with action, do the thing that God is calling you to do. Go the extra mile, honour your Father and Mother, comfort the sick, feed the hungry, give clothes to those who need them, turn thoughts of war and fighting into working for peace, challenge injustice where ever you find it.
You cannot build dreams out of cynicism, if you want to change the world, if you want to make the world a better place, you need faith, you need hope and you need love.
The world is full of opportunities for us to challenge a system that lacks compassion and respect for the vulnerable, a system that tramples the rights of the disadvantaged. You only have to open a newspaper, listen to the news, to find story after story of people being mistreated, quite often by the very people that should be helping them.
Everyone thinks that someone else will sort out these problems, but that is exactly why we are in the state we are in. Leaving it to someone else is exactly what today’s parable tells us we need to avoid doing, we need to take responsibility for our role in the world. So point out when things are unfair, challenge the assumption that its ok for people to suffer, Help others, make a difference, let your voice be heard, change someone else’s life for the better.
All of this is being prepared for God’s kingdom. God has given you the gift of life. What are you going to do with it? How can you make the most of what you have been given, Following Jesus means we Love God, and we love other people, it’s easier than you might think, because the only thing worse than doing something, is doing nothing.