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11.08.20 Service - In Between the Lines

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25:1 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.25:2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.25:3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;25:4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.25:5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.25:6 But at midnight there was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'25:7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.25:8 The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'25:9 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.'25:10 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.25:11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.'25:12 But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do not know you.'25:13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

  • For ages, this text has had a pretty straightforward thesis to it.
    • It’s all about preparation. Don’t be foolish.
    • It also leaves us with a difficult conclusion... some folks who have been waiting for varying reasons will miss out on the reward.
    • And so, we’re left with this - stay awake. Be alert.
  • But if I’m honest, I’m pretty unsatisfied with the story here, especially if that’s all there is. There’s too many plot holes.
    • Why are they taking naps? What wedding party takes a nap half way through the wedding? How is a groom THAT late?
    • And they ran out of oil? How many of you know how long your cell phone batteries last during the day?
    • And how did they not know that the oil-o-rama wasn’t closed in the middle of the night? The Wal-Mart down the street isn’t even open all night, and this is 2020.
    • And the whole final issue of the bridegrooms not sharing? Makes no sense to so much of the gospel, let alone what the early church was.
  • I wonder if all these plot holes are an invitation from Jesus to say “what are we gonna do about it?” As if this narrative was locked in time.
    • What is it like for the five bridesmaids on the other side of the door? Hearing their compatriots be turned away? For what?
    • What would a dose of compassion have done?
    • Wisdom doesn’t not necessarily mean compassion. Sometimes the most foolish thing we can do is be compassionate for someone who has somehow not done the appropriate measurements of their circumstances.
    • Being alert then might not be about our preparation, but about the preparation of others too.
  • What does it mean for us?
    • I’m still new, of course, so I don’t know all there is to know. I just figured out where the bathroom is.
    • But, my guess is it means that one of the best things we can do is not believe the story in front of us is all there is. That maybe Jesus might invite us to shift the stories in the present because we don’t know what or when the future is and will hold.
    • It might be not presuming not confusion wisdom, foolishness, and compassion.
    • Perhaps above all, though, it means not allowing ourselves to lull into a complacency to accept a story that is deemed somehow existential. We have a choice. Let’s stay awake.
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