23rd Sunday after Pentecost: "Waiting Well"

23rd Sunday after Pentecost: "Waiting Well"

November 08, 2020 | Ryan Arnold

Passage: Matthew 25:1-13

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    We are an impatient people. And many of our wait times are only getting shorter.

    It used to be multiple months between a film’s theatre release and when it could be seen at home. Now it’s mere weeks or even the same day. Instant gratification, from the comfort of a favorite couch.

    Not too long-ago mail-order purchases often took 4-6 weeks to arrive. Now if it doesn’t arrive in a couple of days, with free shipping no less, we get antsy.

    This week we excitedly watched screens, refreshed pages, anticipated hoped-for results on the horizon. When news took longer than normal to arrive – hello COVID counting complexities – we couldn’t help but be on edge.

    The parable of the ten maidens also features some impatient people. And for good reason: a grand wedding was on the horizon. Being part of the bridal party, the maidens were, of course, excited. Outfits had been selected; alterations complete. Jewelry adorned; hair coifed just so. The maidens couldn’t hardly wait for the big party to begin.

    And they had their lamps. This was important. For the maidens were essential workers playing a crucial role. They were to be the bearers of light, helping scatter the darkness. Without their light this grand celebration simply wouldn’t be.

    But the wedding didn’t begin as soon as they’d hoped. The bridegroom was delayed. Day turned to evening, turned to night. The maidens grew impatient. The maidens grew tired. The maidens then slept.

    And then, still deep in slumber, a shout rang out. The bridegroom approaches! The maidens awoke, and prepared to greet him. They grabbed their lamps. But there was a problem: while waiting their oil had run low. The light they offered now grew dim.

    Some were prepared, possessing extra fuel to see them through.
    Others had not, and frantically ran to get more.

    By the time the unprepared found fuel and returned, the wedding banquet had begun. The unprepared were now on the outside, looking in, at a party already in progress.

    They realized their purpose, why they’d been invited in the first place –

    To be the bearers of light,
    helping scatter the darkness all around,

    no longer applied. For the moment, for them, had already passed.

    We are an impatient people. We find ourselves excitedly looking toward future celebrations, promises of better tomorrows. It’s natural to want to just get there already.

    Waiting is hard.
    Yet waiting is necessary.

    And more important than the waiting itself? How we go about it.

    May we wait well.
    May we prepare well.

    As we look out on –
    – a pandemic raging,
    – an economy rebuilding,
    – a government re-forming,
    Let me encourage you, people of God:

    Accept the call handed to you from on high.

    Pick up your lamps.
    Be the bearers of light.
    Help scatter the darkness all around.

    Don’t hibernate.
    Don’t wait for it to magically go away.

    We don’t know how long this night will last.
    It may be more marathon than a short sprint.
    Still, we believe, morning will come.

    So refuel, frequently.
    Don’t let your tank run empty.

    Sleep when you need.
    But still stay woke.

    As we wait, may we embrace the awakening. Becoming more aware of the world around. For God desires to refresh, renew, and reincarnate all of it.

    As we wait, may we bear Christ’s light by blessing –
    – the poor in spirit, weary from years of challenge;
    – those who mourn, grieving the loss of too many, too soon;
    – the hungry and thirsty, nourishing their body, feeding their soul;
    – the peacemakers, seeking to unite warring factions all around;
    – those persecuted for their gender, nationality, skin color, or who they love.

    Earthly leaders will fail us, no matter who they are.
    This is our past, our present, our future.

    Instead, we look for salvation elsewhere. We set our sights to the source from which we draw hope. We follow the path that hope illuminates, from above.

    For when we bear Christ’s light, by blessings others, the darkness can’t help but dissipate. Leaving in its wake a glimpse of the garden. As it once was, and can be, again.  Amen.