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DFLC Sermon - March 19, 2023 - Rev. Marie Meeks

Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Kingdom of God is like this… Really Jesus? Last week, we had an ill-dressed man, bound hand and foot, and thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And this week, we have two more parables that don’t seem to make sense either. Our first parable is about ten bridesmaids with their oil lamps burning, waiting for the bridegroom to come to take his bride to the wedding. But the groom is late. Where is he? Why is it taking so long? The bridesmaids all fall asleep, then suddenly the groom is coming. And that’s when five of the bridesmaids realize that they have no oil to replenish their lamp, and the five other bridesmaids refuse to share the extra they have brought.

So is the point of the story, “Be prepared”? I’m confused! What happened to all those other things that Jesus said and did? Remember the feeding of the 5,000? Those folks didn’t prepare very well. They came to hear Jesus out in the middle of nowhere, totally unprepared for lunch. The disciples wanted to send them away, but Jesus stopped them, and fed all the people with five loaves of bread and two fish!

That’s why I think we misinterpret the bridesmaid’s story if we make it sound like the Boy Scout motto. “Always be prepared.” Maybe Jesus wasn’t talking about being prepared, but keeping your light on. We all know the song “This Little Light of Mine”! And we sing it during chapel at the preschool. That song is definitely not about oil lamps. It’s about being filled with the Light of Christ, the Light of God’s love.

A professor was once trying to explain the importance of maintaining a full spiritual life to her students. She reminded them that the role of Christian is to be a light for others – the “Light of the World.” The professor brought an oil lamp to the class, put it on a table, and lit it. It burned really bright for about two minutes, then it sputtered and went out. She asked, “What happens when the oil runs out?” One student called out, “You are in the dark!” Everyone laughed, but the professor had made her point. When the lamp goes out, you have nothing left to give. And you can't be the “Light of the World” for anybody, no matter how much you want to.

It makes sense that Jesus would be talking about maintaining our connection with God as he and the disciples are heading for Jerusalem and the cross. By this point in the Gospel, Jesus has told them three times what will happen to him. He will be arrested, tortured, and killed. And now he is using parables to tell the disciples that God will be with them to renew their spirit. It is the same today. We need to keep replenishing the oil, the Spirit, if we are to be Christians. The time will come when you have to draw on the oil you have, right there, on your body, in your flask. And it isn't going to come from our pension savings. And it isn't going to come from our good intentions and our long-range plans. It's going to come from what fuels you spiritually, right now. It's going to come from where you see God, today. And where is that? Well, Jesus tells us. “I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. I was in prison, and you visited me. I was sick, and you comforted me.”

There are many ways to refill your lamp, especially during this time of Lent. We gather for devotions, we pray together. Some fast or give up something that might distract us from relying on God. Things like our generosity, donating supplies for the people affected by the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey all replenish our relationship with God and each other. So, the Light of God’s love will never go out. Amen.


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