One of the major issues I have is lack of energy. In myself there are lots of things that I think I could do, but the reality is I can’t. After a very short amount of time I need to rest – or even better just sleep. Even the promise of a party takes energy I don’t have.
So I can feel some sympathy for the girls in this reading.
The girls are waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. Then the wedding feast, to which they are invited will begin. They’ve taken their lamps to welcome him. But the evening draws on and the girls fall asleep.
At midnight, the bridegroom arrived, and the girls woke up to greet him. Then it became obvious – five of the girls had brought enough oil to last a long time, others only had their lamps. They were not ready when the bridegroom came.
They looked like they were ready, outside appearances were good, they had lamps. But, and it becomes a big but that means they miss the opportunity, they were not prepared. They didn’t have enough resources. They had the lamps, but they had nothing to power them with.
This passage comes after the tussles between Jesus and the Scribes and the Pharisees. From that I think we can suggest that the parable is about how things look and how things are. The Scribes and Pharisees looked ready for the coming of God’s kingdom, but it wasn’t appearing as they expected and so they weren’t ready. They looked the part – nice shiny lamps – but they had no oil inside. They we all show and no substance. They weren’t ready to meet God’s bridegroom, Jesus, when he came.
For me, this leads to two further questions:
Are we ready? For however and whenever God comes.
Are we in it for the long haul? Do we keep our resources topped up from God, that our oil may not run out?
All ten girls had been waiting with their lamps, but when it came to it, five of them were not really prepared, they didn’t have the resources they needed, and they missed out.
As thoughts begin to turn towards Christmas and all that needs to be prepared, we would find it unthinkable to be found without turkey or mince pies or enough cards to send… or whatever is the essential ingredient to your Christmas. Let’s make sure the same is true of our spiritual needs, that we may not be found without all that we need to be ready and waiting for Jesus when he comes.
as I wait for you,
may I draw on you,
keep myself topped up
with your spirit and life.
May I not be all show,
all outer wrapping,
and no inner substance,