The Gospel this week is about the coming Groom and waiting for him (Matthew 25.1-13). So, I have been thinking about being prepared and what it would mean to miss the wedding of all eternity – life with Christ in the kingdom forever. There is one thing that is evident. No one likes to miss out on a good party because such events create memories and joy within the family and community. No one wants to be left out. But as I consider this, we have t be prepared, be ready and be watching and listening for the moment when we must put out our lights, trim the wicks, fill the lamps and relight them so that we can be on the move when the Groom is ready to go. We are here to serve him in his time of need, not because we are all dressed up to be seen by others.
It is important to consider the fact that there are ten maidens – the very basis for community within the Jewish faith. Five are foolish and unobservant while five more consider the task and prepare accordingly. Everyone is a part of the community, whether wise or foolish. Some are ready for what is being asked of them while others are not. Some think about what God wants while others judge the situation to be about them and what they think matters. It is not about the doctrine they hold. It is not about the programs and projects they run from their buildings.
As Anglicans, how often do we worry about when Jesus is coming back and when will he get here? Do you expect him soon? Do we live like it, both as individuals and as a community? Christmas is coming, and my boys can tell you how many more days (or sleeps) there are until Christmas Day – right down to the hour. How would we live if we knew when Jesus was coming back? Would we live any differently until the last minute? Would we wait until it is almost time and then try and change as much as we could on the last day?
Faith and hope are meant to be lived everyday both by the individual believer and by the Church so that others can see and believe it. After all, in our current culture, no one will care about what you believe and know until they know and believe that you care about them. In the years that I have been pastoring and replanting churches, this has been a basic truth. People, before they will try returning to faith need to know that there is hope for them and for the community to which they are endeavouring to enter and re-enter. From our perspective, it might look like Christ is delaying his return. We might be getting tired of doing good and waiting. We might be like the Thessalonians who think that Jesus has come, and we have missed him and need reassurance.
As human beings, we all need hope which is why as Church, as a community we need each other. We await not just the Bridegroom. We are waiting for that moment when faithlessness, pain, suffering, sin and death will finally come to an end. The old order will pass away and the new will come. We wait for that moment when every tear will be wiped away for the last time. We look for the realization of our hope and faith because it will exist in the presence of divine mercy and justice.
As a Church community, we live to do more than state that we believe in God: even the devil can do that and he shudders – we are together to proclaim the hope that we have in Christ and that he is coming to us to usher in his kingdom, whether we are ready or not. We need to live as faithful witnesses to all that God is doing and be ready to light the lamps and move as God directs. Does this excite or scare you? It should because I know I have some of both.
Let us take the time to be ready, to be prepared and to watch for his coming. Don’t miss the party! Maranatha!