Posted by: mikebackup | November 7, 2011

Are you Ready?

Readings – Matthew 25.1-13, Amos 5.18-24

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

1 At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise.

3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.

4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.

5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.

8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’

12 But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’

13 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Can you think of any stories of turning up late for something: e.g. missing a flight or an exam – what happened?

These verses are uncomfortable, should they have shared their oil? No, because this is a parable, not a literal story where we’re applying everyday morality. This is about readiness before God and that is something we can only do ourselves. I can’t give you some of my faith, love, compassion, alertness. All I can do is encourage you to exercise those qualities that are in you.

Reflections on this sometimes look to the end times, second coming etc. That gets you off lightly. This parable is about you in the here and now. It asks three big questions of you and me. Firstly are you ready for God in every person you see? How prepared are you for the Big Issue seller, the person who wants to talk on the bus, the person who calls out of the blue when you’re busy? There’s a real skill in being ready for God in all places because it means what you’re doing isn’t always the most important thing. Everything we do must prepare us in excited anticipation to meet God.

It also asks us are we prepared spiritually. Are there things in your spiritual life that you are not dealing with, that you are putting off? What excuses are you making? The parable has a clear message to stay awake!! What areas in your faith life might be asleep? Is your faith asleep? Your relationship with God is your responsibility. I and others can help and support in all sorts of ways but ultimately it’s up to you. Accept the sometimes terrifying challenges that faith puts your way. It can be the most amazing adventure if you give it chance.

Then there’s being prepared to catch the moment. There are so many instances where we live in some made up future and miss beautiful gifts from God, particularly with friends and family. Sometimes we need reminding of this through something that tugs at the heartstrings. For me a particular song gets me every time and focuses me on looking out for, making and cherishing moments. It’s ‘slipping through my fingers’ by ABBA. I came across the song through Mamma Mia and though ironically I will never be a mother reflecting on a grown up Daughter I so get this.

Be aware of the present and look at it and squeeze it for all its worth when you have a God given moment of joy. Also take photos, videos and look at them, celebrate them. The little video of Josh and Oli I made as part of my ordination reflection shows moments that were heaven sent for me.

When looking at that, in similar ways part of me reacts in the same way as when I listen to ‘Slipping through my fingers’. I lament the moments that have passed even though I caught them and cherished them. For those without faith things like this can become desperately sad. Even though my heart mourns the passing of gifts like that, the hope that my faith gives me, that life isn’t pointless stops me from falling too far. Don’t think that be prepared to catch the moment is just about friends and family they can be with anyone at any time. Be a blessing to catch a blessing.

Be prepared to meet with Christ at any point.

Be prepared in your spiritual life.

Be prepared to capture every moment, God gives you gifts of pure heaven.

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