Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV)
"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.  For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,  but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.  As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept.  But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'  But the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.'  And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.  Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.'  But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.'  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Absurd! It’s taken me a while on this one. Reading the parable. I have to say, I looked forward to the excuse for breaking Capon open again this morning, but it meant an even later posting, for a morning that had already gotten a late start. But then it is perhaps fitting that it is late, when dealing with a parable that depicts God as a man late for his own wedding, which is about the same as being late for one’s own funeral isn’t it? Maybe is now for me. Thankfully Laura rarely reads my blog…. Go ahead facebook her the link…
It’s absurd though, Judgment day here isn’t depicted with scare tactics. It’s depicted as God showing up late to his party. The guests are there. The ten virgins. They are already at the party. We aren’t trying to get in, we are here. Perhaps we have started on the appetizers. Perhaps a couple drinks at the bar, chatting with old friends. We get a picture of what the party is going to be like. Priming as it were for the real party to begin when the host shows up. But he delays.
It’s fitting though in a way, isn’t it? I just got done reading Ecclesiastes this morning, love that book. All about enjoying the vain life we have, being wise enough not to take it too seriously, and foolish enough to know where to draw the line, drunk enough to be sober about it maybe. Copius readings of Ecclesiastes, and two years in Italy impressed upon me the importance of enjoying life, and the knowledge of how. This life shouldn’t be drudgery. If it is, you have the wrong religion, if your reading this, probably a wrong concept of what it means to be Christian. Get over yourself. The party is just getting started. Of course the foolish virgins, they run out of oil as the party last’s longer than they expected. They run out of oil before the host even shows up!
I don’t know how that happens, when the oil is equated as faith. Well perhaps I have a few ideas on that. They just never replenish, if they ever had it in the first place. They were here at the party and they didn’t know what the party was about. The wise Virgins, perhaps they took note, that no one would know the day or the hour, they prepared realizing that the Bridegroom just might be having a good time somewhere else and expects his guests are being adequately entertained while enjoys his waning hours of bachelorhood. The foolish virgins run out of oil thinking he just has cold feet. They give up. Perhaps they never believed he would show up in the first place, but came to check it out. Brought just enough oil for that.
Of course in the end, they are shut out of the party, they go where there is no oil to buy. The others at this point can’t share. No one can believe for you. Though I know of few Christians who didn’t wish they could. Paul and Moses both ask that if it were possible their names be exchanged for all those that miss out. But Jesus already palyed that card. He took our death on himself, that he might give us life, a pass to the party. It’s there for you, he even expects us to enjoy this life a bit while he is absent. He comes for the party though. When Jesus comes, it is just the beginning of the good times, of which we may have a bit of a foretaste now on Sunday when our sins are forgiven in the feast of the New Testament. But it begins in earnest when he shows up, but it is at that point that others will find they have been shut out due to their own foolishness.