Daily Devotion – October 27, 2020 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Matthew 25:1-13
25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.
25:2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
25:3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;
25:4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
25:5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.
25:6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
25:7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.
25:8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
25:9 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.’
25:10 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.
25:11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’
25:12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’
25:13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

So, here is a fairly bleak story for five of the bridesmaids.  Where is the grace? Where is the bounty of God? Ten young women, all dressed up and in possession of lamps. They wait and wait and wait, for a groom who is very very very late in coming. All ten of them fall asleep. The five that get to go to the wedding feast have one thing that the other five lack – an extra supply of oil. We do not know that they even used the extra supply, or that the five who lacked extra oil would actually have needed it. But these latter five leave their posts, running around at midnight to try to find extra oil, and during that time, their assigned task comes due: the groom and the procession arrive, and because the five had left their posts, they miss everything.

In search of having it all, they were stuck with nothing.

Since the Gospel of Matthew was written to the Jews, this story of “in search of having it all, they got nothing” may in fact be a continuation of Jesus’s many warnings to those in the Jewish faith who followed the letter of the law but often missed the spirit of it. Jesus may have been trying to point out that no matter how faithful you are to practices of faith, if you are busy with those at the moment the kingdom arrives for you, you may miss the ultimate goal of your faith: entry into God’s kingdom and the eternal heavenly banquet, the chance to spend eternity in the presence of God. And God has revealed to NO ONE when the bridegroom will arrive. No one can predict it.  NO ONE.

So never ever ever stop looking and listening for the Kingdom of God. It comes near us all the time but we miss it. When you do notice it, it is a moment of grace. Notice more and more often. Look and listen for it every day. Do your faith practices, but they are not what gets you into the banquet. What gets you in is paying attention to the Lord when the Lord arrives. Listen for the Lord’s call in your life. Every day. Keep your relationship with the Lord strong and the channels open. You will surely see and hear it.

Dear Lord, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving us the assignment to wait for you. Help us to pay attention for you every day. As we listen for you, please let us hear you calling us.   Amen.