This blog will include the sermons I have preached as a lay minister with the Anglican Parish of South Queens in the Diocese of NS and PEI in the Anglican Church of Canada. Because my preaching schedule varies, the frequency of postings will vary.
I hope that these sermons will enrich your spiritual life as much as they have enriched mine.
Saturday, 8 November 2014
Matthew 25:1-13 Be Prepared
not hard to tell that we are getting closer to the end of the church year. In
fact, three weeks from today we will be celebrating the First Sunday in Advent.
The Gospel readings for these last few weeks of the Season of Pentecost talk
about what God’s judgement will be like. They talk about the separating of the
faithful from the unfaithful. Today’s reading from Matthew 25:1-13, which is
known as the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids, emphasizes the
important of being prepared for Christ’s return.
Jesus described preparations
for a wedding.Weddings provided much
needed relief from the humdrum and hard work of daily life.Usually women took care of children and
performed household chores.They looked
forward to any small distraction, such as their daily visit to the village well
where they could visit with other village women.
their tedium was broken by the great events of village life––weddings, births,
and bar mitzvahs––even funerals.Of
these, weddings involved the greatest celebration.At a wedding, the couple was the center of
village life for days on end.After the
marriage ceremony, there was feasting, dancing, and revelry, which could last
for several days.For the couple, it was
"the gladdest week in all their lives".It was a glad week for their friends as
well––an event not to be missed!
An important part
of the wedding ceremony was the procession from the home of the bride's parents
to the couple's new home.As the
bridegroom escorted his bride to their new home, their pathway was lit by
wedding guests holding aloft flaming torches, probably sticks wrapped with oily
A wedding was a
great joy for all the members of the community, but especially so for the young
women invited to serve as the bride's attendants.It was an honor to be asked to participate,
and those who agreed were expected to do so enthusiastically and responsibly.
The young women were expected to be ready, because the bridegroom's coming
signaled the beginning of a great and joyous festival––something that promised
to be one of the highlights of these young women's lives.
of you know what it is like to be prepared for something. If you lived on a
farm, you prepared for the winter months. If you have ever gone on a trip, you
had to prepare first. Some of you even prepared for the day when you would be
here in this nursing home. The most important thing we can do is to prepare for
Matthew wrote his
Gospel a half-century after the resurrection. He struggled with the issue of
the delayed Second Coming.Many
first-generation Christians believed that Jesus would return in their
lifetimes, but by the time Matthew wrote his Gospel, many years had passed
since the Resurrection, and many Christians were beginning to wonder how long
it would take for Jesus to return. In this series of parables, Matthew
encouraged the church to maintain its vigil, even though the people were weary
of maintaining an "alert status."
this parable, the oil represents the Holy Spirit. The foolish virgins are those
who have not truly been saved. Believers can’t just impart the Holy Spirit
(i.e. share the oil) to unbelievers. Each person must receive salvation for
himself or herself before it’s too late. God’s judgment is unequivocal and
irreversible. We can’t know Christian assurance without the Holy Spirit.
bride in this parable is the church. In fact, the church is referred to in
Scripture as “the bride of Christ.” Just like a bride and groom have to be
ready for the wedding, the church as the bride of Christ has to be ready for
him when he comes. As Christians we are part of the church, so we have to be
ready for his return. We have to keep our lamps fed with the oil of the Holy
Spirit. We must see that we are continually growing in the love of God and
service to others.
What does it mean for us to keep our lamps
fed? Being prepared––having oil––means
working faithfully for the Lord. It means practicing good stewardship––good
ecological practices––careful management of time and money––generosity to those
in need––proclamation of the Word––the possibilities go on and on. Being
prepared––having oil––means generosity to those in need. Jesus makes it clear
that he has expectations regarding our behavior––standards that we must take
seriously––obedience to which we must aspire.In this parable, he also makes it clear that there is a time for
repentance and a time when repentance will be too late.
are called to be faithful to God and obey him. Being faithful is the meaning of
waiting for the Lord to come. There will be no second chances when Christ
returns. The Lord of the household-aka God-is not being rude when he denies
entrance to the foolish virgins. He assumes those who really want to join in
the festivities will come prepared. We must always be prepared for the Lord to
return, because he could return at any time. We do not know the exact date and
time when he will return, but we do know that Christ has promised great joy to
those who are prepared for his return and grave consequences for those who are
David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood,
TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013)
Bible. Part of Wordsearch 10 Bible Software package.
M.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s
Commentary Series, Vol. 23: Matthew (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.;
4.Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville,
TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 2010)