Be ready! (03-11-20)
The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
My brother Richard and his family like to do their Christmas shopping early, much to the amusement of the rest of the family. In most years they have completed all their present buying by the end of October, before any of us have even started to think about what to get anyone let alone go out and buy anything. So it was no surprise when a few weeks ago I received a message from my brother Richard stating that he was out doing his Christmas shopping (he likes to get it done all in one day if possible) and could I send him shoe sizes (hopefully for slippers, as they are always welcome) and shirt sizes (much more risky) for Rob and I. I fully expect that he will have completed his mission and will be sitting very comfortably knowing that all his shopping is done.
At the time of writing this we are fully expecting to go into another lockdown this week and all ‘non-essential’ shops will close for at least a month, making Christmas present shopping much more difficult if, like many people, you like to actually see and touch what it is you are buying or you like to shop local rather than happily buying everything via the internet. Richard of course does not have this worry, his shopping is already done. By being ready early and having everything in place he is secure in the knowledge that he has bought what he wanted for each person.
We live in what feels like very uncertain times; we are never sure of what restrictions may be placed on us at any time or what, indeed, Christmas will be like this year. Being ready for what may happen is not always very easy. By the time this lockdown is over we will be in Advent, a time when we look forward both to celebrating when Christ came to earth as a baby, but also looking forward to when Christ will return. As Christians we are told to ensure that we are ready for the time when Christ will come again, we do not know when it will be but we do know that one day it will happen. This is so much more important than making sure we are ready for Christmas, although many of us spend more time getting ready for Christmas than we do thinking about the second coming.
Never again, after this year, will people mock those who do their Christmas shopping in October for they will be ready. For Christians we need to be ready, so that we can be secure in the knowledge that whatever may happen in life, it is well with our souls.
Christ Jesus, may we always be ready to live for you and to be the people you want us to be.
Song: It is well with my soul