22nd Sunday after Pentecost—Year A—Nov 9, 2014
Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham
Let the words of mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Amen.
If I didn’t know better, I might think after hearing today’s texts that we were already in Advent…the church season of waiting and preparation.
But the Bridegroom’s advise to the foolish five isn’t exactly the Boy Scout motto “be prepared” it is instead “keep awake,” but that is not actually what caused them to be late. All ten bridesmaids fall asleep—the foolish five and the wise five. Even if they had stayed up all night, they would all still have needed to trim their lamps and add more oil. The foolish five would still have had less oil than the others. And if we are honest, is it really the foolish five’s fault that the bridegroom was late and more than a usual amount of oil was required?
Are they really foolish for simply not being overly prepared?
Or is there something bigger going on here?
Are they described as foolish because they leave to go get more oil…so they would have their lamps lit…maintaining appearances…instead of doing the important thing—greeting the bridegroom.
It is very similar to the situation that Amos describes—properly executed worship—festivals, assemblies, offerings, and music—but none of it is backed up by what truly matters—participating in justice and righteousness in one’s daily life.
So maybe this is the awake-ness that Jesus is calling us to. Not the opposite of asleep, but been aware of what is important. Maybe what makes the five foolish is their misplaced priorities not their lack of oil.
And so then I wonder what does it look like for us to wait, fully awake, as Jesus would have us?
It looks like another 50 quilts laying on pews ready to be blessed and then be sent around the world to provide comfort, warmth, and protection to those who need it and rarely can count on it.
It looks like citizens voting for candidates and ballot questions based on the good of the last, least, lowly—not just what is best for them individually.
It looks like more cans of vegetables and boxes of pancake mix being added to the pile out in the Narthex every day in preparation for packing Thanksgiving Baskets.
It looks like a coalition of worshipping communities, social service agencies, and community groups working together to provide necessities and holiday celebrations to homeless families living in motels.
It looks like faithful servants generously donating and collecting, wisely shopping, carefully wrapping, lovingly baking, secretly giving and warmly welcoming families of inmates so that a little more of the world might also experience the light of God’s love.
JUSTICE ROLLING DOWN
It looks like…well…a million different things.
JUSTICE ROLLING DOWN LIKE WATERS
AND RIGHTEOUSNESS LIKE AN EVER FLOWING STREAM
We gather here each week for a variety of reasons, but the main one is not to make sure that we do all the rituals correctly, or give the right sacrifice, in order to gain God’s favor. We have been giving that for nothing, it is a free gift, which combined with community worship—praise, prayer, scripture, music, and the meal—equips us to be wise bridesmaids—and I’m not talking about the fact that we carry around lots of extra oil, or that we save it for ourselves and are not willing to share our oil or our lamps, or that we advise others to go away and get better prepared—but that we were wise enough to be present for the important part—to greet the bridegroom as is our calling.
So my prayer this week is that you might be awake to greet Jesus wherever he might be present throughout your week in your daily lives, and you might be wise enough to pass on the justice and righteousness and light that you have been given to others who need it.
For we know neither the day nor the hour that might be our last, so why not let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream? WOOSH!