Final Instructions - Week Two: Ten Bridesmaids

Final Instructions—Jesus last teachings to his Disciples

Why are we reading and teaching these texts before Advent?  We are expecting a Gift, but we need to know what the Gift means for us. 

Today, we will be exploring what it means to wait and be ready for the coming of the Messiah and a world made new. 

And we’re also going to be learning that we must be ready to wait. 

Let’s reflect for a moment on why we hate to wait… 

Berlin-based cultural scientist Claudia Peppel wrote a book in 2019 entitled "The Art Of Waiting," she explored through art, stories, and commentary what about waiting makes most of us anxious, angry, and frustrated.  

Peppel said that most of the reasons surrounding our anxiety about waiting have to do with issues of power and how we chafe at someone else having so much control over our time and energy. 

How many of you have sat waiting in line for one thing or another and found yourself critiquing the powers that be who set the whole thing up? If you were running things, it would be better.  
Peppel also says that most waiting areas are inhospitable spaces.  The chairs aren't comfy, the magazines are years old, and there might be a fish tank somewhere in the room, but more is needed to hold your interest. TV tuned to bad daytime TV. 

And yet, Peppel points out, we complain about never having enough “down” time.  We wish we had more time to read catch up on emails and the like.  Aren't we funny? 

German social scientist Karlheinz Geissler asserts that we are not ready to wait any longer.  He remembers living in East Germany and waiting in lines as part of the Soviet experience.  Sometimes, you didn't even know what you were waiting for. 

Image of line in East Germany

Yet, according to Geissler, at the end of the day, it's really about the concept of waiting for itself and the promise it can hold if you look at it in a certain light. "How I experience time depends on what I associate with waiting," he says. 

"We assume that we organize time ourselves, yet waiting is actually something where time comes to you, and you ask: What's in store for me: in experiences, sensations, possibilities?"

I know. You probably didn't imagine a philosophical discourse on waiting today. 

I wanted to keep you waiting for the main point. 

See what I did there. 

The fact is that Jesus had a lot to say about waiting and being ready.  And the discourses that we've been studying speak directly to this.  


Matthew 25:1-13 - The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids

This parable is sandwiched in between two other parables about readiness

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten young women[a] took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.[b] 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 

3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 

Everyone of the bridesmaids falls asleep—but one group is ready 

6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those young women[c] got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 

9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 

10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. 

11 Later the other young women[d] came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.[e]

The point of this story is to be ready to wait, unpredictable, uncertain 

Isaiah 61:10-11 - unfaithfulness replaced by righteousness 

10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
    my whole being shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    to spring up before all the nations.

They await not only the groom but a feast that ends pain and suffering. 

Live like people who anticipate a new world, even as we wait for a new world.

Wise followers act out their hope for God to establish justice, righteousness, and peace. 

Living in Anticipation - Having a Full Lamp 
  1. When the “time is ripe” we are ready to act. 
  2. A full lamp means having a full heart, full of hope. 
  3. There is grace in all of it—and there’s always another moment. 
Phoebe Anna Traquair - a new vision for the Bridesmaids.  

Images from her artwork

The fact of the matter is that Christ is always returning.  Be Ready. 



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