Being the Light

Matthew 25:1-13

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Sermon Being the Light

Good morning. I have to confess that I’m a little superstitious when it comes to writing sermons. I’m always a little nervous if I finish my sermon earlier in the week. I’m afraid that there will be some calamity, some disaster in the world, and I’ll need to rewrite my sermon to speak a word of peace in the wake of whatever awfulness might have happened.

A lot of my clergy friends have this superstition, too. I don’t want speak for my friends, but I’m always afraid that a sermon that sounded good on Wednesday might sound trite or superficial if there’s a national tragedy on Friday or Saturday.

I’ll admit, I tend to be a procrastinator. So, this superstition plays into my existing habits—of course I can’t write my sermon until Saturday morning! Something could happen!

But this is 2020!

Everything is weird!

In this new reality, I have to finish my sermon by Thursday, so that I can record on Friday, and then hand it off to John to edit the video. Besides, it’s 2020. How much worse could things get if I finish early?

I offer all of this because I waited until Friday morning to write this sermon and we still don’t know, with absolute certainty, the final outcome of the election. Yes, one candidate appears to have a lead in several swing states, but there will certainly be lawsuits and recounts after the states announce their results.

I had hoped there would be some certainty before I wrote the sermon, because I thought that would make it easier to speak a word of peace, a word of grace into these uncertain times. But I suppose we’re all anxious, no matter which candidate we voted for. We’re all seeking peace.

Our reading from the Gospel of Matthew doesn’t make it any easier to find the peace—not for me. I don’t particularly like this parable. On the surface, it seems ungracious. There are ten bridesmaids. Five are wise; each one carries an extra flask of oil. The other five are foolish; not one of them has carried extra oil. And the oil that was in their lamps at the beginning of the evening has run out. The foolish bridesmaids ask for help, but the wise bridesmaids won’t give it to them. So, the foolish ones go off in search of oil. Then the wise bridesmaids meet the bridegroom and they’re taken into the wedding banquet. The door is shut behind them. The foolish bridesmaids are shut out from the heavenly banquet.