Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 and Psalm 78:1-7
Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16 or Amos 5:18-24
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Peace be with you!
We defined a church as a community last week. This week we look at what happens when a community divides into factions, which I know they “never” develop in your congregations. No elder fights to keep the same traditions going; no young adult asks for a contemporary service; no one argues with you when you want to buy the new hymnal; or [whatever “it” is] that your congregation members “do not” argue about.
Factions are inevitable. They pop unexpectedly and cause a community to divide, especially when a group of individuals try to introduce a change. It is difficult to please each individual all the time. It is even more difficult when the conflict, such as a new pastor or youth director, causes a division in the congregation where one group eventually leaves the church. This causes a sense of insiders and outsiders – a division no one really likes.
So upon reading the gospel text, if you wanted to throw something, I am here to say you are not alone. Jesus is clearly making a division: the wise – those who are alert and confidence in their faith and the foolish – those who are not prepared and fall away. Honestly, it is difficult for me to write about, because I do not want anyone to miss going to heaven.
But here we are with this difficult parable. The bridegroom is running late, which was common in ancient times when the groom negotiated for the bride with her family (Works 2011). The bridesmaids should have expected a wait. Five of the ten bridesmaids (the wise) were prepared while the other five (the foolish) were not prepare. Although all ten bridesmaids fall asleep while waiting for the bridegroom, the wise bridesmaids brought extra oil to relight their lamps with when the procession to the party was ready to begin (Matthew 25:4, 9).
All ten bridesmaids rush to relight their lambs when they see the bridegroom coming. However, the foolish bridesmaids are out of oil and ask the wise bridesmaids if they could use some of their oil to light their lambs (Matthew 25:8). The wise bridesmaids refused and told the foolish bridesmaids to go buy more oil, which they did (Matthew 25:8-9).
When the foolish bridesmaids come back with more oil, the wedding procession has already happened and the doors to the banquet hall is closed. CLOSED! No one is coming in or coming out. The Lord claims to not know the foolish bridesmaids when they call out to him (Matthew 25:11-12). The closed door is a harsh reality because it symbolizes not everyone will enter heaven. No one wants to be left out, like the foolish bridesmaids were.
Yet no one knows when Jesus Christ will come again. How we prepare for Jesus’ return will determine if we get to attend the banquet in heaven. So how are you preparing? (Please discuss through the comment box.) I dedicate my life to spreading the good news and doing Jesus’ mission, although some days are more difficult than others. We live in a world where God’s mission is overlooked for our own individual missions. But we must be prepared for Jesus’ return and put our own missions aside. So stay alert and find endurance in the good news of the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The time will come when the procession to heaven will take place, and the banquet will begin got those individuals with endurance in the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the promise of Jesus’ return. Help us to stay alert and find endurance in your good news. Thank you for the invite to the banquet. Amen.
Works, Carla. Matthew 24:1-13. 2011 йил 5-June. http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=11/6/2011 (accessed 2011 йил 5-November).
Please feel free to answer the reflective questions through comments. Please agree to disagree and be respectable to each other. Please take a moment, if you have not already, to sign the covenant. You can answer all or just one of the questions.
1. How are you staying alert and preparing for Jesus’ return?
2. How do you build endurance in the good news?