Pastor Michael Frye:

For those of us who live on this side of the world, the parable that Jesus told in our gospel today may not make a lot of sense.

It is just a story that Jesus told to make a point.

But this, in fact, tells a story of what could have happened in that day and could still happen in some parts of the Middle East.

A wedding was a great occasion, and the whole village turned out to accompany the couple to their new home by taking the longest route so more people could join the celebration.

There is a custom from those days which would be unfamiliar to our western culture.

When a couple married, they stayed at home rather than going on a honeymoon.

For an entire week they kept their home open to their invited guests, and there was much celebration and merriment.

But there was also intrigue on these occasions, for sometimes the bridal couple would try to trick their guests by showing up at unexpected times, deliberately trying to catch them napping.

Which is why the guests would often hire a town crier to alert them that the bridal party was approaching.

There was also a requirement in those days that one should not be out after dark without a lighted lamp…so Jesus’ audience would immediately identify with the details of his story including the point that once the bride and groom have closed the door to their home, no one would be admitted.

There are a couple significant meanings to Jesus’ parable.

The first was directed at the Jews, God’s chosen people, who throughout their history had been waiting for the arrival of the Messiah.

Jesus is reminding them that they should have been ready, but they were woefully unprepared and would be shut out of the banquet.

But Jesus also has a warning in this parable for all of us.

He is warning that there a some things upon which one cannot wait until the last minute to accomplish.

I’m sure that many of you as students, like me, found ourselves cramming to finish a paper or waited far too late to study for an exam.

It is also too late for someone to develop a skill for a special occupation, like Being a doctor or a lawyer without adequate preparation and following certain guidelines.

Likewise, one who seeks to follow Jesus must be alert and prepared to follow in Christ’s footsteps (studying God’s Word, praying for guidance and direction, being open to the presence of the Holy Spirit and showing a willingness to
respond when called into action).

These things are like fuel for our lamps as we wait upon the Lord.

William Barclay also points out that Jesus is warning us that there are things that just cannot be borrowed when it comes to living out our faith.

One cannot borrow a relationship with God (this is a very personal thing that has to be cultivated and nurtured through prayer and praise and thanksgiving).

One cannot borrow character or integrity.

This, too, has to be developed from our early years through encouragement and by example from our parents, relatives, and other close relationships (not the least of which should be our
church family).

There is no time like the present for us to recognize that this parable is warning us to never take for granted the importance of preparation to receive our Lord.

We must also come to understand that our Lord may not only come as a bridegroom or a bride; he may also come as one who is grieving, one who is dying, one who is impoverished seeking comfort and relief from the harsh realities of life.

Do we not also see Jesus in our relationships with one another; can we recognize those moments when we need to set aside our own needs and concerns in order to be a comforting presence for someone who is in agony and distress?

There is no room for complacency or idleness among those who seek to serve Jesus.

We remain alert and responsive to the needs and concerns of those around us, even as we wait for that time when we will all see Jesus in all his glory.

The prophet Amos reminded the people of Israel that one can go through all the motions of rituals and alms-giving and the singing of Psalms and songs and still not have a right mind when it comes to ones relationship with God.

What is most important is that we remain open throughout our lives to feeling God’s presence in our hearts and that we allow ourselves to share God’s presence with those who surround us each and every day.

It is never too late to be an invited guest into God’s banquet if we remain open to receiving, and sharing, God’s love, and grace, and mercy while we wait.

Amen.