Matthew 25, 1-6
Something to read
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
King James Version
'Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, "Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him."'
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
No one doubted that the bridegroom would turn up. But as Jesus' parable shows, it's never a good idea to make assumptions. We don't know why one group of women had no oil with them. Maybe they thought they had worked out what time the bridegroom would come and saw no need to be prepared for any alternative.
For the last 2,000 years people have been predicting the coming of God's kingdom and the end of the world as we know it, and so far no one has got it right.
Christians are not called to make predictions about the end; but we are called to live appropriately in the meantime, putting kingdom values into action in the world. Or, in the words of the old hymn, 'live thou each day as if 'twere thy last'.
That means trusting in the Lord's time, not ours, while being always well prepared to meet him if and when he comes, especially if natural sleepiness won't allow us to put things right at the last minute!
Something to do
Hunt out an oil lamp or a picture of one. Keep it as a reminder of the need to be prepared.
Something to pray
Prepare my heart, Lord to meet you; prepare my words to greet you; prepare my soul to be always at rest with you.
Today's contributor is the Rev Dr Paula Clifford, Christian Aid's Head of Theology.