Red Letter Year: 5/27

Matthew 25:1-13

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

10 But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

12 But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

13 So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

Comments

This parable reiterates what Jesus has been saying since chapter 23. Instead of looking for signs and engaging in religious manipulation, Jesus’ followers are to wait for his coming. Waiting for Jesus is a fundamental activity of his followers, waiting should inform all our thought and action. But we don’t just wait in the dark. We wait with our lamps lit, burning bright with the oil of the Holy Spirit. We will see tomorrow and Wednesday what else we are to be doing during the waiting, but the first and foremost thing is always waiting for Jesus with our lights shining – illuminating Jesus to the world. Spend some time today thinking about what it means to be in a posture of waiting on Jesus and how the Spirit empowers that waiting. Feel free to share your thoughts here.

The New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 5/24

Matthew 24:26-51

26 “So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it! 27 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. 28 Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.

29 Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world — from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

32 Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. 34 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

36 However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 37 When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.

40 Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. 42 So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. 44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

45 A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 46 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 47 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 48 But what if the servant is evil and thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ 49 and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 50 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, 51 and he will cut the servant to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Comments

As it was in Noah’s day. Think about that for a minute. What was it like in Noah’s day? What sign did they get to know what was coming? Nothing before the first rain drop. Before that it was business as usual. Except for Noah. If anyone needed a pre-sign, it was the guy building the big boat for no apparent reason. But he didn’t get any sign until the animals starting turning up, after the boat was complete. Noah is our example because he built the ark in ordinary time, not in reaction to various current events.

And so it must be with us. Early Christians  understood Noah’s ark to be symbolic of the church – a space we build under divine direction to keep safe and nurture all whom God sends to us. And God will send us every sort of person imaginable, clean and unclean, lovely and not-so-lovely, various kinds of smelly, with various dietary needs and quirky habits, even some that are downright dangerous. Each is precious to God and worth saving. That is what the ark is for, saving life from the storms outside, bringing them into a place that cares for them, protects them, and delivers them safely through the storm.

All this is made possible because Noah did what God told him to do. Unlike the religious leaders and disciples, Noah did not ask for or wait on a sign. He did not build in reaction to what was going on around him or what would appeal to popular opinion. What he built was unintelligible to the world around him. It was based on an alternate logic. A logic of obedience to God. A logic of nurture. A logic of acceptance.

And so it must be with us.

The New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.