the one about falling asleep...
November 13, 2017, 12:00 AM

Sermon from November 12, 2017

Text: Matthew 25:1-13


Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, it is always at this time in the church year – as we quickly approach the season of Advent and the new church year, that we begin reading texts in worship that call for us to ‘be on the lookout’ of God coming near. Some years it is more overt than others, but nonetheless around this time of the year we hear about being ‘watchful.’

Whenever I read this text, I think of my girls when they promise to ‘stay awake’ to wait up for Erin and I as we come home from either a meeting or if we are together, from a date. Before going off to wherever it is that takes us from home, one of them will say, “You better come wish me good night, I’ll be up you know!”

Sure, you will kid.

I’ll be honest though, each night after we get back from wherever we are, I’ll go peak my head in their rooms just to check. And, you know what – they’re always asleep. Asleep in the middle of books, lights, and toys.

I think of those moments as I read in this parable about those 10 bridesmaids. Because, if you hadn’t noticed before – whether they are ‘foolish’ or ‘wise’ they all fall asleep. All of them. I think that’s something that we always read past and don’t process. We just assume that the wise ones stayed awake, and the foolish ones nodded off. Yet, that isn’t the case at all. They all succumb to slumber and they all are roused from their sleep by the call that the bridegroom is finally here.

Whenever we’ve read this text before, I think we’ve always interpreted it in such a way that we must be in ‘constant vigilance’ mode. Always at attention, always on the lookout, always wary about who’s going to walk in through the door.

But, I’m not sure that the text is calling exactly for that kind of vigilance. In fact, I want to shift a little bit in what this text brings to our attention.

This text – as I read it – isn’t so much about always being prepared (even though it does ask us to be prepared) but, that the bridegroom – our Christ – is going to come. Though, probably not within the timeframe that we’d expect. It’s gonna be awhile and that means you’re going to have to wait.

I don’t know about y’all, but waiting stinks.

This past week I waited every day for my car to arrive at my door. Even when I KNEW when it would get here, it was exciting, annoying, frustrating, and still brought up some anxiety. Would it get here on time, would it be what I expected, would I be happy with the delivery?

We don’t like to wait. Especially when we know when something is supposed to arrive. In the world we live in today, we can track things like never before. We can know – almost to the second – when something is supposed to be ready. When things go off schedule? Woe be to the one who feels our wrath.

My package was supposed to be here today! What happened!

I literally watched on your app as my pizza was being made – why isn’t it ready?

In our waiting, we become frustrated – especially in those petty and small moments like waiting for pizzas or packages. Yet, still… we wait for other things that are much bigger ordeals – moments where we don’t know when ‘it’ will come.

Waiting for a child to be born, for a friend to arrive, for food to be served. All those can be exciting moments as we wait. We still don’t like it, but we wait.

But, then there are those moments that we don’t look forward that we have to endure waiting – when is the surgery going to be done, how long are they going to deliberate on my job status, or even more anxiety inducing moments.

We wait. And it stinks. Especially when we think it’s taking too long.

I imagine many of you might be feeling that way as we see more reports given about violence somewhere in the world, especially after the news of last week with the shooting at a small church, in a small town in Texas.

How long O Lord are you going to take to return? What more do we have to go through for you to bring heaven on earth to us? What’s with the delay? We’re falling asleep over here!

Waiting. We still wait. We don’t know when the Lord will arrive.

I presume that when that time comes, someone will be bold to say – “You’re late Lord!” and I’m hopeful that Jesus’ response will be – in the kindest way possible, “I’m never late, I arrive precisely when I mean to.”

So, if we have to wait – what are we to do?

There’s something else that I noticed in this text that I overlooked many, many other times. Wise or foolish, these 10 bridesmaids are together in their waiting. They are with one another as they wait for the groom to arrive. They are with one another as they each fall asleep in their waiting.

They are a community together.

Perhaps that is the best thing to pull from this text as gospel. Perhaps, in our knowledge that we will wait. That we are watchful. That we don’t wait in hope alone. We do this together as the body of Christ as the community of believers.

I think about that as I go and visit and wait with folks as they are anticipating news of any kind. Good or bad, it helps that we wait together. It is never fun to wait alone, that brings so much more anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and more.

Sitting with others as we wait for news about a surgery. Being present with family as they await the news of a new baby born. Even having fun with folks as we still wait for the pizza to arrive.

We wait together. We wait together as we are watchful for when Christ will return.

As we wait together we continue to serve those around us, reaching out to those who come from afar and in ways that are different than what we expect.

We wait. Knowing full well that as we wait, we’re probably going to fall asleep together.

Yet, our God is still going to come, no matter what. And that is good news. Amen.

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