Summary: There is no time like the present to prepare for the future. We don’t always have time to cram for the celebration that is sure to come.
Ready or Not!
A young man applied for a job as a farm-hand. When asked for his qualifications, he said, "I can sleep when the wind blows."
This puzzled the farmer, but he took a liking to the young man and hired him.
A few days later, the farmer and his wife were awakened in the night by a violent storm. They quickly began to check things out to see if all was secure. They found that the shutters of the farmhouse had been securely fastened. A good supply of logs had been set next to the fireplace. The farm implements had been placed in the storage shed, safe from the elements. The tractor had been moved into the garage. The barn had been properly locked. All was well. Even the animals were calm.
It was then that the farmer grasped the meaning of the young man’s words, "I can sleep when the wind blows."
Because the farm-hand had performed loyal and faithful work when the skies were clear, he was prepared for the storm when it broke. Consequently, when the wind blew, he had no fear. He was able to sleep in peace. (Tim Zingale, “I Can Sleep When the Wind Blows”, http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=51946)
In our Gospel message, we heard about a story of 10 virgins. This story was part of the marriage ritual that was much more elaborate than we’re used to today. It was customary in Jewish culture that after a couple was engaged, the groom would go away for about a year and prepare a home for the new family. When he returned, a great celebration was held to commemorate the newly married couple. Where today we honor the arrival of the bride and dedicate the day to her, in the past, the day was dedicated to the groom. There was a bit of mystery in the event as no-one knew precisely when he and the groomsmen would arrive. But, their arrival was led at night with a torch procession and the shouts of joy from the wedding party.
When the groom finally arrived, the bridesmaids would join the procession with their lamps and follow into the wedding feast. It was a huge foah-pah to come without a lit lamp. In fact, any bride’s maid who came without a lamp would be turned away at the door. They didn’t prepare for the feast and were obviously not a friend of the wedding party. The maids who were prepared entered the festivities with shouts of joy. They entered the wedding hall and the celebration that followed.
But, those who were not prepared, were left outside the gates. They were not allowed to join the celebration.
This story is one of the last parables Jesus told his disciples before he was arrested by the authorities. It was meant to reassure them as they prepared for the coming events, to give them courage and hope as they faced the unknown. The story was centered on a wedding celebration, a joyous event. For Christians, the coming of Jesus is good news, not bad. But, to be ready for the festive day, we need to prepare a bit.
After all, having good intentions does not equate to proper actions.
My wife and I have invested in some exercise equipment through the years. We’ve bought a stationary bike, an exercise ball, a weight set and even an Abs-machine. But, most of these items never met their intended goal. Our tone didn’t improve like we intended and we didn’t get stronger. Why? because we didn’t use them! Our great intentions didn’t change our physical appearance. To have these tools do any good, you have to actually use them; you can’t just let them lie around the house.
Intentions can be well placed, but they won’t shape your bodies and they won’t shape your spiritual character either.
Acting on intentions is more than thinking about what you’ll do, when you’ll do it, and how to get it done. It’s not a passive life spent waiting for an opportunity to present itself, but acting on the opportunities that are already available. There is no time like the present.
We need to be prepared for the master’s entrance. The 5 foolish virgins were equipped for the wedding feast. They had their lamps and they knew how to use them and where to get the oil. But, they chose to bring only a small amount of oil. They knew that the groom was coming, but they didn’t know when. None of them were able to say “I didn’t know to bring oil.” Instead, they chose to come with only minimal preparations. When they finally did see the master coming, they didn’t go right away and and buy the oil they needed. Instead, they looked for someone else to bail them out of trouble. But, that help never came. Why? Because you can’t establish a relationship through someone else’s actions. You have to do that yourself. The lamps were a symbol of that relationship with the master and we only have one master, Jesus Christ. Only we can build that relationship with Him.