Tag Archives: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Be Prepared

Are you the king of person who is prepared for every eventuality, or lives responding to life as it happens?    I find myself swinging much more from the former to the latter these day, whether that’s circumstance, experience or age I’m not sure. There are merits in both flexibility and being ready – until you get caught out!

Matthew 25:1-13 (CEV)

A Story about Ten Girls

25 The kingdom of heaven is like what happened one night when ten girls took their oil lamps and went to a wedding to meet the groom. Five of the girls were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps, but no extra oil. The ones who were wise took along extra oil for their lamps.

The groom was late arriving, and the girls became drowsy and fell asleep. Then in the middle of the night someone shouted, “Here’s the groom! Come to meet him!”

When the girls got up and started getting their lamps ready, the foolish ones said to the others, “Let us have some of your oil! Our lamps are going out.”

The girls who were wise answered, “There’s not enough oil for all of us! Go and buy some for yourselves.”

10 While the foolish girls were on their way to get some oil, the groom arrived. The girls who were ready went into the wedding, and the doors were closed. 11 Later the other girls returned and shouted, “Sir, sir! Open the door for us!”

12 But the groom replied, “I don’t even know you!”

13 So, my disciples, always be ready! You don’t know the day or the time when all this will happen.

There we were.  Waiting for him to come.  The bridegroom.  Nothing could happen until he came.

It was a long wait I can tell you.  Don’t know what had held him up, but we were there, ready with our lamps to light his way, his arrival.  I’d taken extra fuel for my lamp.  I like to be prepared, ready for anything and everything.  These things often take longer than you think.  Four of the others had done the same – it takes a lot of light!  You need to be ready with an ongoing source.  Some of the others weren’t ready for such a long haul.  They had just the oil that had come in their lamps.

So they had to go and find some more.  Who knows where they were going to find it at that time of night.  Anywhere they could I suppose.  But they weren’t going to last the wait without an extra supply.  The awkward bit is that whilst they were gone, the groom came.  Their moment of waiting was over and they missed it.  They were needed with their light, and they weren’t there.  We had to go with him.  This is what we’d been waiting for, the whole reason for the vigil.  To have waited for the others would have been to let the groom down – he already only had half the light he should.

When the others came back they were too late.  Their not having enough oil to last had cost them their entry.

The Scouts aren’t wrong with their motto.

Lord,
you ask me to be ready,
prepared for when you need me,
ready for when you come.

May my resources not run low,
may I keep supplies topped up,
may I remain in you,
my strength,
my light,
my power.

And when you come
may I be ready
and not caught napping.

Your Time

(edit) It turns out somehow I’ve managed to get a week ahead of myself, but it’s here now – so enjoy!  And you’re ready for next week 🙂 (but if you really want this weeks Psalm, it should be 70

This is such a beautiful Psalm.  No other words are necessary.

Psalm 90  (CEV)

God Is Eternal

90 Our Lord, in all generations
    you have been our home.
You have always been God—
    long before the birth
    of the mountains,
    even before you created
    the earth and the world.

At your command we die
    and turn back to dust,
    but a thousand years
    mean nothing to you!
They are merely a day gone by
    or a few hours in the night.

You bring our lives to an end
    just like a dream.
We are merely tender grass
    that sprouts and grows
in the morning,
    but dries up by evening.
Your furious anger frightens
    and destroys us,
and you know all of our sins,
    even those we do in secret.

Your anger is a burden
each day we live,
    then life ends like a sigh.
10 We can expect seventy years,
or maybe eighty,
    if we are healthy,
    but even our best years
    bring trouble and sorrow.
Suddenly our time is up,
    and we disappear.
11 No one knows the full power
    of your furious anger,
    but it is as great as the fear
    that we owe to you.
12 Teach us to use wisely
    all the time we have.

13 Help us, Lord! Don’t wait!
    Pity your servants.
14 When morning comes,
    let your love satisfy
    all our needs.
Then we can celebrate
    and be glad for what time
    we have left.
15 Make us happy for as long
    as you caused us trouble
    and sorrow.
16 Do wonderful things for us,
    your servants,
    and show your mighty power
    to our children.
17 Our Lord and our God,
    treat us with kindness
    and let all go well for us.
    Please let all go well!

Sitting in Judgement

How does the idea of being judged make you feel?  To feel that someone is weighing you up against their standards and norms?  I’m not very good at it.  It makes me feel immediately defensive and as if I have to justify myself and my actions – usually wrongly.

On the other hand, how good I am at sitting in judgement on other people… Imagining I know why they do what they do, where they are coming from, comparing their actions with ‘what I would do’ – because of course I know best.  How foolish I am.

Of course I do what I do mainly because I believe it to be the right thing.  It fits in with my understanding of the world and myself.  But does it fit in with Gods?  If I look at my actions through his eyes, might they seem different, less satisfactory, not sharing his ideals?

God is probably the one person entitled to sit in judgement on us.  The one who holds the big picture, who understands our motives, who sees people trying to do their best – and those trying to make everything fit their way.  Where would I fit in that picture?  How does my behavior weigh up?  I might think I will be vindicated and shown to be right all along.  I wonder…

Amos 5:18-24 (CEV)

When the Lord Judges

18 You look forward to the day
when the Lord comes to judge.
    But you are in for trouble!
It won’t be a time of sunshine;
    all will be darkness.
19 You will run from a lion,
    only to meet a bear.
You will escape to your house,
rest your hand on the wall,
    and be bitten by a snake.
20 The day when the Lord judges
will be dark, very dark,
    without a ray of light.

What the Lord Demands

21 I, the Lord, hate and despise
your religious celebrations
    and your times of worship.
22 I won’t accept your offerings
or animal sacrifices—
    not even your very best.
23 No more of your noisy songs!
I won’t listen
    when you play your harps.
24 But let justice and fairness
flow like a river
    that never runs dry.

We don’t like to think of God sitting in judgement.  We want him to be a nice God, always on our side.  Yet if God is God, he has a Grand Plan, a right and wrong way for things to be done.  Not because he is high and mighty, but because he truly knows what is best for us, loves us and cares for us; and longs for us to have the best.

So, God is not looking for us to say all the right things, but to actually do them; not to just put on a good front, but truly aim to live his ways; not to make a lot of noise, but to live those things out.  God looks, not at the show we put on, but the reality of our lives lived day by day.

They are the only criteria anyone should be judged by.  And the judging is not ours, but Gods.

Forgive me Lord,
the times I am quick to sit in judgement,
believing I know what is best,
or what is in the heart of another.
Forgive my arrogance,
my short-sightedness,
my focus on me.

Forgive me Lord,
when I have got things so wrong,
yet believed I was so right.
When I have missed the point,
not understood
or failed to ask.
When I have been so focussed
on what I thought,
that I have failed to hear your voice
or ignored it
and gone my own way.

Thank you
that you are a God of forgiveness,
of hope,
of renewal,
and of new possibilities.

I offer myself anew to you today.
Help me to hear your voice clearly
and respond to all you ask of me.