By Ken Asel
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 25:1-13
1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Few things bind us together as profoundly as a wedding. In my last parish before retirement, we blessed and celebrated close to 40 weddings each summer. Couples were both local as well as from throughout our nation and beyond. It was an honor for the parish to welcome our members and guests!
Matthew today tells a parable of a wedding feast. Jesus was a masterful storyteller and told this familiar event well. It speaks of a Palestinian custom in which the groom leaves his own family home, going to his betrothed and escorting her to the wedding feast, arriving as one to greet their guests. In our parish we had an extraordinary wedding coordinator. I was always delighted when she directed the wedding. She was meticulous in her planning and event execution.
Matthew tells us a different tale. The groom was late, very late. Some of the bridesmaids were prepared, having trimmed their lamps before setting out to the festival; others were not. Those prepared were welcomed to the feast, while others were not allowed inside. Harsh, perhaps, but the message for guests in this parable is to be ready when Christ beckons us that it is time to join him.
Our Christmas decorations are almost complete, and gifts are wrapped, and cards are in the mail. Are our hearts ready for Christmas Day? A married couple promises to love and cherish one another until they are parted by death. It is a great joy when that promise is kept. Matthew reminds us to prepare for the birth of our Lord as we once again make our hearts and souls and minds ready to live differently, as we celebrate God’s Son coming among us. Alleluia.
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest of the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married for thirty years and reside on the Front Range with their granddaughter.
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Today we pray for:
Christ Cathedral, Salina, Kan.
The Diocese of Ikka (Church of Nigeria – Anglican Communion)