Summary: When the big blackout hit, were you ready? Are you ready for God’s next move?
Were you Ready?
I was going to preach a different sermon today, but the events of the recent blackout combined with an experience I had during it, led me to change my topic for this Sunday. As it is, it will also permit me to do a lot more research on the topic I had originally planned.
I don¡¦t know what you were doing during the great blackout, but I was in my house, just after an electrician had finished hooking up a new breaker box. So the first thing I did when the power went off was check the new box. But everything looked okay. After trying to call Painesville Electric but getting a busy signal, I figured it was out in the town. Then I looked up and didn¡¦t see the Perry Nuclear Power plant¡¦s steam, so I began to get worried. Then Jennifer called to tell me she was coming home, that Cleveland was without power too. So I tuned into the car radio and heard how widespread it was.
Just the week before, I had gotten batteries for all of the flashlights, so I wasn¡¦t unprepared. I¡¦m just curious¡Khow many folks here found they needed batteries when the lights went out? Well, I also searched the house for a battery operated radio, and it required C-sized batteries¡Kwhich we didn¡¦t have. So I got in the car and went to the local convenience store and was met by the clerk who was behind a locked door. ¡§Sorry, too late, we are closed!¡¨
A sinking feeling hit me as I remembered a biblical parallel to this story.
1 "The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish took no oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil (in flasks). 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all lay down and slept. 6 At midnight they were roused by the shout, ’Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and welcome him!’ 7 "All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ’Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the others replied, ’We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 "But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ’Sir, open the door for us!’ 12 But he called back, ’I don’t know you!’ 13 "So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return.¡¨
1. Think about it, really.
a. Who would carry a lamp without oil? (or in this case, a spare flask of oil).
b. Who would buy a flashlight and not equip it with batteries?
i. Who wouldn¡¦t have a spare set of batteries in case a black out lasted a long time?
ii. Or have smoke detectors whose batteries had run down?
c. Actually, a lot of us probably would. We are so used to having just what we need, that preparing for the unexpected isn¡¦t always something we are doing.
d. In this story, no one really expected the bridegroom to wait until midnight to come.
i. Everyone expected him earlier. But for some reason, 5 of the bridesmaids took along something extra.
2. They remind me of my wife, who whenever we would go on a trip, would always pack something that we just might need.
a. I would always moan and complain that we didn¡¦t have room, that we wouldn¡¦t ever need an extra box of wipees for a 3 hour drive, or two changes of baby clothes, an extra bottle of water, or of all things, children¡¦s Tylenol.
b. I mean, a five hour trip from Fort Worth to Houston in December is nothing! As I couldn¡¦t have anticipated, we needed every item she brought, as the 3 hour trip grew to nearly 7 hours of an extremely rare snow and ice storm than led us to drive under 30 miles an hour for nearly the entire trip.
c. Wipees? You know what happens that you would need those for? And extra baby clothes¡Kyup, same thing. Jennifer was right. Moms generally are better prepared than we are!
d. Good thing that this story Jesus tells is about bridesmaids and not about groomsmen!
3. Background on the Story:
a. First-century Jewish wedding customs.
b. In those days you got married in three stages.