Monday, November 11, 2013

Watch and Pray

Matthew 25:1  "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.

“The Kingdom of heaven is like....” Matthew’s Gospel uses this phrase repeatedly, using different analogies to invite those who hear Jesus to accept the rule of God over their lives.  This time the illustration draws on a wedding: the bridesmaids are waiting to welcome the groom, who is later than expected. Those who were better prepared were able to accompany the groom, while some were caught unprepared and were left out of the celebrations.

This analogy was probably preserved at a time when the first generation of Christian disciples began to realise that Jesus would not return in their life time: ie: the bridegroom was later than expected, and some members of the church were “falling asleep”. The invitation is issued to remain watchful “for you know neither the day nor the hour.”  

We who follow Jesus are invited to live fully aware of the presence of Jesus in each moment of our lives. This requires the daily practice of what Matthew 25 calls “wakefulness”, or what some might call ‘mindfulness’.

For Thought
Watch and pray that when the Master cometh,
If at morning, noon, or night,
He may find a lamp in every window,
Trimmed, and burning clear and bright.
o    Refrain:
Watch and pray, the Lord commandeth;
Watch and pray, ’twill not be long.
Soon He’ll gather home His loved ones,
To the happy vale of song
 Frances J. Crosby

Ordinary 33 / Pentecost +26
55 See...Judge...Act
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 335.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

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