Sunday’s Gospel reading was a familiar story from Matthew 25:1-13 of the ten bridesmaids, five of whom were wise and five were foolish. The Rev. Chris Bowhay said in his sermon that this passage is often misinterpreted. The five foolish bridesmaids were not upbraided because they failed to plan ahead and bring oil for their lamps, and all ten bridesmaids fell asleep when the bridegroom was delayed. Chris said this parable is an example of how we can follow Jesus, but fail to experience heaven either in the future or even now.
Chris continued that it isn’t the oil that is important, in fact, the oil distracted the bridesmaids from their real purpose. They weren’t there to light the way, but instead to experience the light of Christ. In order to do that they had to remain present, waiting, until the bridegroom arrived. We don’t know the day nor the hour of Christ’s return, so we must stay close to Him at all times, not distracted by the “oil” of our days.
The parable illustrates how we try to earn God’s love. The five foolish bridesmaids went into town to do a good work (buying more oil), but instead, they missed the arrival of the bridegroom and were not let into the house after the doors were closed.
Jesus often referred to himself as the bridegroom and the church as His bride. The intimate relationship of marriage can only be experienced when we are close by, and not distracted with earthly things. God loves us each day not because of what we do for Him, but because He loves us each day. True eternal life is a gift, and cannot be earned. Good works are good, but they are not needed for God to love us.
As the sun rises each morning, it isn’t another opportunity for a new to-do list, instead it is another opportunity for us to feel God’s loving embrace, just as we are.