St Michael’s Church, Church Lane, Aughton, Ormskirk L39 6SB Tel 01695 424457 (Parish Office, Mon to Fri, 9am - 12 noon)
12 November 2017 - 3 before Advent
Gospel Reading: Matthew 25.1-13
Theme: A dark night
Bible notes on the reading:
This week we have a parable about being ready. The context is a wedding, and specifically the bridesmaids. But we mustn’t think of modern wedding practices when we think of the bridesmaids. It is not easy to be sure of their precise duties, but it is clear from the story that these bridesmaids were there to receive and escort the groom to his bride. In Jesus’ story, the groom (for some unstated and unknown reason) is delayed for a significant period of time (v.5). But keep in mind that the story is about being prepared and ready. When, finally, the groom arrives, five of the bridesmaids are not ready – it is dark, and they have no oil for their lamps (v.8) – so they cannot escort him.
The problem was not that they were asleep (even though this is mentioned), but that they were not ready in the first place, and not prepared for any delay either. But their rejection by the groom is devastating, for he would have known the wedding party (vv.11-12). Are there echoes here of Matthew 7.23? Finally, ‘keep awake therefore’ sits rather oddly – even the wise girls were asleep when the groom arrived. It is not wakefulness but readiness that is important to the story. (Perhaps we are meant to infer that if there hadn’t been a delay they would have had time to go and buy some oil; or, that if they had stayed awake they may have realised their mistake in time to fix the problem.)
There are three surprises in this parable. First, outwardly, all the bridesmaids look the same, but clearly they are not. Second, not everything can be borrowed or shared; some things we have to do for ourselves. Finally, there is a moment when, no matter what, it is too late – the time has passed, the moment has gone.
Live your faith - ideas for our faith into action in our daily living.
For children: Challenge the children to think ahead and plan what they need to be ready for each day this week.
For young people: Stick your kit list up somewhere you will see it this week, as a reminder to be prepared every day.
For adults: Invite people to take a tealight (see Prepare the space), place it somewhere significant at home and light it, to challenge the darkness of complacency – if they feel themselves slipping into it.
Find out more about one of the bible passages
we have heard this week.
Prayers around today’s themes
A way into prayer
God of all time and all opportunities, please be where today and tomorrow merge and become my ‘now’. Help me to prepare for each task, and show me how to be more like your Son, that your will may be done – joy by joy, tear by tear, day by day, year by year. Amen.
A children’s prayer
forgive us for not looking ahead
and being prepared.
Help us to be ready,
especially for you when you call us.
A personal prayer
Loving God, so often I feel unprepared for the day ahead and all its demands. I’m distracted when I try to worship – with other things buzzing in my head. I’m complacent about the relationships that make my life special – taking friends and family for granted. Help me to be more focused on you, that I may take the days in my stride, embracing both the holy and the ordinary in my prayers, and ready to listen, to serve and to provide for those around me. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Reflection questions on this week's picture: