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Be Prepared

Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him
Matthew 25:1-13

Sermon Topic Repentance

Sermon Week Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 25:6


For many years Alice had been a top student in all her classes: in elementary school, high school and college. Three years after earning her undergraduate degree, she was still in school doing graduate work. Her parents were proud of her scholastic achievements, but they still worried about her future. Like many parents, they were watching and waiting for the day when their daughter would be securely married. But Alice was not about to become a bride until the right man came along -- and her standards were very exacting. She was looking for "Mr. Perfect." And this finally placed her in somewhat of a dilemma. As she explained to her parents: "For several months I have been dating two men. One is handsome, intelligent, witty, kind and considerate, and he has plenty of money too. The other wants to marry me."

In today's Lesson, Jesus tells a parable about a wedding ceremony in which ten bridesmaids are watching and waiting for a bridegroom. The ritual required the ten bridesmaids to escort the bridegroom to the wedding celebration, but the hour is late, and the bridegroom is late. So the bridesmaids doze off. But suddenly a cry goes up: "Behold the bridegroom! Come out to meet him" (Mt. 25:5). The bridesmaids rise and trim their oil lamps. But the lamps are going out. Five of the bridesmaids have brought extra oil; five have not. The five who are prepared to keep their lamps burning are able to enter the place of the wedding feast with the bridegroom. The five who are unprepared are unable to enter.

That's the gist of the story. It sounds odd to modern ears and we have difficulty relating to it. But we should remember that it did have real symbolic meaning for Jesus' immediate audience. As part of the wedding ceremony in those days, the bridegroom was expected to arrive late and the bridesmaids were expected to wait for him -- for hours if necessary.

When Jesus spoke this parable, the emphasis fell on the bridesmaids who had the foresight to bring enough oil with [...]

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