The Rev’d Robert Warren
The Rev’d Robert Warren
"...those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast;
and the door was shut."
A number of Jesus stories concern things which go wrong at weddings. Guests don’t show up when invited. Folks show up badly dressed and are unceremoniously tossed out of the banquet hall. The drinks run out. In this Sunday’s reading a group of attendant young women was given the job of welcoming the bridegroom back to his house with his new bride through a gauntlet of lighted lamps. He was late back from the bride's family home where the marriage contract had been signed. The girls had all fallen asleep and, when they were roused, half of them were unable to fulfill their appointed task because they had forgotten the fuel for their lamps. Take a seasoned clergyman out for supper some day. Ask him about strange things which occur at weddings. You’ll be entertained.
This Sunday’s parable leaves us none the wiser about wedding services in the ancient world. The point is elsewhere. Chapter 24 and 25 of Matthew’s gospel are all about events and reckonings which may take us by surprise. They shouldn’t, though, because we ought to have been expecting them. It looked like a nice morning but by this afternoon the gale was howling and our roof blew off. We thought it was just an ordinary day but then the telephone rang. Everything changed immediately. All the jobs we were putting off were suddenly required of us - now - this instant. Come to my office with the promised presentation prepared. Show us your accounts and how they balance. Line up your children and have them recite the Nicene Creed. Feed the dozen people who have just now landed on your doorstep. You did, after all, say “Drop by any time”.
Readiness is a virtue in the apocalyptic world of Matthew 24 and 25. Would you prefer to live in a world where the faith of individuals and communities is an option? Are you only aware of vague promises about, some day, changing your hardness of heart towards the people around you? Have you taken a gamble that, eventually, you will try and figure out what the nature of your attachment to Jesus is?
Do understand that this same Jesus, in a story framed by Matthew the Apostle, is putting the wind up you and calling into question the time you imagine you have. How you live now tells the story of who you are now. These things are all crucially important. Don’t let the clock tick on. Don't let the door shut.