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Stay Woke: Bridesmaids and Flasks

Nov 12, 2017 - Rev. Phil Dieke

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Weddings are familiar and lovely occasions, and Jesus’ parable about bridesmaids waiting for the groom’s arrival seems like a pretty easy parable to understand – Church: be patient and be prepared as you await Jesus and the arrival of the Kingdom of God.

However, as we read this parable more closely, the simplicity fades.

What are we supposed to be ready for? How are we supposed to wait? Will we be wise or foolish?

In the parable, all 10 of the bridesmaids shined their light during the waiting, but the 5 wise ones were ready for the long haul. Surely we should be like the wise bridesmaids. The problem is, all 10 fell asleep. And, if these 10 women represent the church, shouldn’t we expect that the wise would share their oil with those who had run out? Where is the church’s creative problem solving? Where is their love for their neighbor bridesmaids?

The oil and whether there is a lack or abundance of it naturally draws our attention, but perhaps the oil itself is not the point of this parable. In fact, the final verse encourages the reader to “Keep awake,” not to bring extra oil. Maybe what prevented the foolish bridesmaids from entering the wedding was simply that they were not present – they were distracted by oil rather than staying awake, attentive, and present.

As we attempt to learn from this parable, we need to “stay woke” as we await the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. We need to be awake and present – alert and involved – to the injustice and oppression that people suffer in our world. We, as the church, must take action on behalf of our neighbors who suffer the evils of our world.

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