Saturday, November 8, 2014

Proper 27

Proper 27
Proper 27
Matthew 25:1-13

Lord God, Heavenly Father, send forth Your Son to lead His bride the Church, that with all the company of the redeemed we may finally enter into His eternal wedding feast.

It is important to be prepared for life exigencies - tests in school. Fluctuations in grain markets. And in the business world. There will be changes. And challenges. Along the way.  It happens in grammar school. In high school. And in college. It creeps up in middle life. And into old age. Yet it is more important still to be prepared for the final event in human history - The Lord's final coming.

Jesus begins His parable differently this morning.  He says, "The kingdom of God WILL be like..." He speaks about the future. There is a transition here.  For the next three weeks, we will listen to Jesus as He speaks directly concerning the end. Hence, this parable is read at the end of the church year.

In Jesus' parable, the cry came, at midnight. This was often the case. Most bridegrooms chose to come late at night. The bridegroom would come. And guests would light the way ushering him into the hall.

But in this case, the bridegroom is delayed...all slumbered...all slept.  You do not know the hour. It will be a while. So, in the meantime, live within your vocation. If you're a farmer, shell corn. If you're a teacher, plan that lesson. If you're a laborer, show up on time. Take pride in your work. If you're a stay at home Mom, love those little ones.  Live as if the end is now. "The end of all things is at hand. Plant and sow but not despair if we don't see the harvest."[1]

The sleeping attendants were awakened. Sleep. This is the sleep of death. All shall die.  Believers and unbelievers alike. The judgment comes next. With the return of Christ. They all sleep in death. Believers and pagans alike. Then comes the cry.  They are awakened to be met in judgment. 

Out of them, five were morons, five sensible.  Faith and foolishness can look alike to this world. "Eat drink and be merry...,” we are told. The morons reason, "For tomorrow we die." The reasonable are assured, "tomorrow we live!"

These morons - took lamps but not oil. The wise ones - took lamps along with their flasks. The morons are like the seed sown in the shallow soil. There is no abiding in the Word. In their excitement, these foolish ones run to greet Him. But they fail to bring supplies. They assume to be saved by the works of others... It was then that they realized that they did not have enough oil in their lamps to get through the night.

Panicked, they attempted to borrow some from the other bridesmaids. But they responded, "If we give you our oil, there won't be enough for us. Hurry out to the dealers and buy some yourself."

So the five foolish maidens hurried out. But by the time they returned the door had already been closed. They knocked on the door. They plead to be a part of the festivities. But the groom said to them, "If you belonged at this event you would already have been present."

Jesus concludes: "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Be on the alert!  You do not know of your date of destiny. You can't repent later...tomorrow might not come.

1. You are foolish if you do not prepare.

The foolish said to the wise, “give from your lamps for ours are ceasing/going out." Riding on the coat tails of another's faith will not do. There's more than enough now but in the end - not. Jesus has previously warned us. "Do not claim to have Abraham as your father."  "Do not expect more because you worked harder." That kind of thinking, well, it's moronic.

You are not prepared if you rely on Christian associations. Mere membership in the church is not preparation. Neither is having the designation "Christian" or "Lutheran"

You are not prepared if you rely on someone else' faith. You can't rely on the faith of your parents. You can't rely on the faith of an illustrious Christian ancestor.

To be inadequately prepared is foolish because when Christ comes it will be too late to make proper perpetration. Without proper preparation, your fate will then be forever fixed.

The bridegroom comes - while the fools are on their way. The wise were focused on the bridegroom.  The prepared ones went with Him into the wedding banquet. 

Without proper preparation, you will be left in darkness behind the closed door. Five of the most dreadful words in all of the Scriptures, Old or New Testament, are recorded in this parable. "And the door was shut." And, "I do not know you!"

2. You are wise if you prepare.

You must have ample supply of oil. Only through Christ are you adequately prepared. Only by faith do you receive the forgiveness of sins that Christ earned for you.  Wise preparation is possible because of God's gift of faith.

You must trim your lamps. Faith must be nurtured by a regular use of God's Word and Sacraments.  As faith is nurtured, you go about your business, your ordinary activities in a quiet confidence "all slumbered and slept" v.5 you are prepared to meet Christ whenever He comes.

To be prepared is wise because you have attended to what is most important - your standing before Christ. Christ knows you as His own. Now, and then - at His return. You will enter the heavenly marriage feast with Him.

The bridegroom is coming. It is possible to make preparations and yet not be prepared. By faith, you are prepared to meet Him.  Keep watch.  You do not know the time or hour. Be on the alert!  You do not know when the bridegroom will choose to show up. You can't repent later...tomorrow might not come.

 The only hope you have is to focus on the bridegroom.
Words –1,035
Passive Sentences –10%
Readability –83%
Reading -3.9

[1] A quote attributed to CFW Walther

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