Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Our Gospel reading from Matthew 25:1-13 is often used to focus on the "foolish virgins" as opposed to the "wise virgins." I'd like to take us a slightly different direction. It is clear, I think, from the context, that Jesus is comparing the kingdom of God to this situation. The bridegroom represents God, and specifically God the Son, coming to claim his bride, which would be the Church, all who believe that he has redeemed them. The virgins, then, would be us humans waiting for his coming.
The actual arrival of the wedding party for their parade and reception is unpredictable. There are all sorts of things that can happen, even today, between a marriage ceremony and the arrival of the groom and his new wife at the reception site. Meanwhile, everyone waits.
How do we Christians prepare for the wait? How are we getting ready for the unpredictable time? In the parable, everyone becomes sleepy. This makes perfect sense and there is no guilt associated with it. If you go to a wedding in the afternoon and the reception doesn't get started until 3 a.m., you'll be sleepy. Take a nap! You'll know when it's time for the reception.
The critical issue is that some were prepared for the wait and some were not. It's likely that this parable describes some sort of a torchlight procession, not something using a lamp with a wick. The person who is prepared with a torch may have a knife or scissors to trim the cloth at the end of the torch. Possibly someone would have some additional fabric just in case the torch starts to fall apart. There will be a way of lighting the torch, since you can't always get a light from someone else. And you'll have a jar with some oil in it. You get the torch ready, stick it into the oil until it can wick up a good bit, and then you set the torch on fire for the procession.
The people who came without making necessary provisions were simply ignoring a reality that they could have predicted. They are assuming that someone else will take care of them.
The people who prepare for the procession understand that they need to consider reasonably all the likely scenarios. The Christian who is waiting for the return of Christ knows that it could be instant. It could also be a very long time. We live as those who have an eager expectation. But at the same time, we develop our career, we care for our family, we invest for the future, and we make sure that we are able to do some good for those around us. After all, Christ's coming might not be while our generation is alive. We prepare. But we continue to wait eagerly. Our Lord is certainly coming. We keep the resources ready. Faith, hope, and love.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.