Monday, November 03, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Today’s text

Matthew 21:1-5

'Then the kingdom of Heaven will be like this: Ten wedding attendants took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones, though they took their lamps, took no oil with them, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep.


Do we ever really know what we will need over the course of a long journey? No. Well, then, how about for a week? Or maybe a day?

Truth is, Jesus, I seldom know what I will need to have done by the end of the week, to say nothing of a month or a year. The usual duties I know about, but unforeseen challenges will arise and contingencies will occur over which I have no control.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. The surprises force me to respond, to think on my feet, to meet and deal with more people than I otherwise would have. Not always easy or pleasant, but this enriches me more often than not. I am more alive for it, and almost always more loving.

So what am I to do with this little tale of yours about wise and foolish attendants, some who go prepared for a long wait and others not? And all fall asleep during the long wait.

The punch line is apparent before one gets half way through the story: be prepared, stay awake. Things may not develop as you imagined, so bring more than you think you need.

And what do we need? There’s the rub. We are never quite sure. So how do we stay prepared, awake, ready for your arrival? For that is the point: you come, Jesus. Will we be awake to receive you and enter the party of your presence?

Early believers in you struggled to stay awake when your final appearance was delayed longer than they had imagined. Here we sit 20 centuries later still waiting for your arrival--or not.

I pay little, make that no attention to prophecies that your final coming draws near. Those who make such predictions, whipping up excitement about the ‘last times,’ all sound crazed or silly to me. How can they know? And maybe this biblical language about the end is all symbol and metaphor taken far too literally.

Thousands of self-proclaimed prophets have arisen with messages about the end of time during the past 20 centuries. None of them knew a thing.

And they all missed the point as far as I am concerned. The party of your presence is now. Despite the suffering and struggle of this and every age, we live in the time of your constant coming. And we’d all see and know it if our souls were half awake to the miracle of the daily.

If we were, we’d attend to your nearness in the mystery of souls nearest our own, in the love and joy that is apparent in the most mundane moments, in the struggle to be and remain a human being instead of a mere consumer of goods and people for our ends. We might then see the mystery of your uncreated love in smiles well known to us.

But this requires staying awake to what is right in front of us, which I think, Jesus your your point.

Pr. David L. Miller

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