Always Be Prepared

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” 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.” 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. Later the others came also say, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
~ Matthew 25:1-13

This strange story is almost always used to warn us that we should be ready to die at any moment of the day. That is, indeed, a very wholesome thought, and a very necessary one, too, in our day and age. Nevertheless, it does not seem to be the gist, the point, or the message of the story, because it would not be like Jesus to suggest that the Kingdom of Heaven comes to us only at the end of our lives.. It might come in its fulfillment at the end of our lives, but that fulfillment will come only insofar as we stayed awake in view of it during our lives here. That seems to be the message of this parable: During our lives here, we should not fall asleep. We should keep awake and ready, in case Jesus wants to invade our lives with his Kingdom.
~ Joseph G. Donders

So keep awake and watchful, salvation is at hand!
Our hope is in Christ Jesus, and by God’s grace we stand
The night is almost over, we wait for God’s new day,
And through the Holy Spirit, we follow Jesus’ way.
~ Carolyn Winfrey Gillette

Preparation involves remembering God’s promises and claiming them as our own. God does not withdraw God’s promises and the promises must be seen as part of our spiritual history as a people of God. But they must be reinterpreted and open to the new realities of the present. God’s promises are full of grace and can make us live and act with the understanding that God is in charge and no one else.

To be prepared means that we must be willing to be transformed daily by the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must believe that transformation is possible, even transformation of the world and our country. We must articulate that the status quo is not acceptable, that in justice and exploitation are not acceptable; that violence in any form is not acceptable. At the same time we also must let God do God’s work of transformation while we wait with our lamps trimmed for God’s call to further engage the powers and principalities of the world.

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
~ Psalm 78:1

These reflections are for use during the week of November 9-15, 2020.

Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence


Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.

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