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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Pastor Nelda’s Notes

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The parable of the bridesmaids follows Jesus’ warnings about the end when the faithful will be hated by the world and many will fall away from the faith. This parable teaches all followers of Jesus the importance of vigilance in an uncertain time and illustrates how one is able to “endure to the end”.
In this story, the bridesmaids would await the arrival of the bridegroom and greet him with a procession of light in the darkness. The bridesmaids are waiting either at the brides’ home for the groom to come and fetch her or at the home of the groom’s family where the wedding would take place. All the maids have large torches or lamps. All bridesmaids are waiting with their lamps lit in eager expectation of the groom’s appearance. 
However, he is delayed. It is not uncommon because there could be last minute negotiations between the groom and the bride’s relatives over the gifts exchanged. The text doesn’t really explain the delay. The parable compares to the parable of the two servants, the parable of the talents and Jesus’ warning “Therefore you also must be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour”.
The delay of the groom and the lateness of the hour, all the bridesmaids have fallen asleep. The wise bridesmaids brought extra oil. for their lamps. But both groups knew that the groom was coming and waited with their lamps burning, but only half considered that the wait in the darkness might be longer than anticipated.
The groom’s arrival was announced and the bridesmaids set about trimming and preparing their lamps for the procession. The foolish bridesmaids discovered they were running out of oil and asked the five wise bridesmaids to lend their extra oil. If they gave away their oil, they would not have enough. Then what would become of the processional?
When the foolish were away making arrangements that should have been made already, the groom arrived. The procession occurred without the foolish bridesmaids, and the banquet began. 
The foolish returned, ready for the processional. They knocked on the door of the house, but their entrance to the wedding banquet was denied by the groom. They missed the grand procession. 
These bridesmaids were chosen to accompany the bride and groom, their role as bridesmaids did not guarantee them a place at the banquet. They were shut out of the banquet. The maids’ plea recalls Jesus’ warning that not everyone who cries “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 13 sums up the parable. “Keep awake” might be translated as “Stay Woke”. The bridegroom’s arrival is certain. But the uncertainty of his arrival suggests that we must always be on guard.  The earliest readers of this Gospel have already entered the dark days after the crucifixion and resurrection and have begun waiting for Christ’s return. This parable challenges them to be vigilant and live in anticipation of the Lord’s coming.
Many may find themselves secretly sympathetic to the foolish maidens. Do we as the church, really live as though the bridegroom’s arrival is certain? Have become caught up in trying to determine the day and the hour of have we let our lamps run out of oil. To “Stay Woke” means for the us to do the tasks that we have been appointed to do in preparation for the Master’s coming. In Matthew’s Gospel, those tasks include bearing witness to God’s kingdom by welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned and making disciples in all the world.
Peace, Pastor Nelda
Hope to see you in worship, in person or online.

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