Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Sunday Message Based on the Parable of Ten Young Women

This Sunday I am preaching on the Parable of Ten Young Women

This parable is found in Mathew 25:1-13.

You can read it here: niv2012 // ceb

 

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He taught them many things by parables…. ” (Mark 4:2, Matt 13:3).

Last week we talked about the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

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It was possible to listen to Jesus preach a parable and totally miss the point. Someone who heard the parable of the Good Samaritan might have said, “Wow! That road between Jerusalem and Jericho is a dangerous place! Next time I travel that road I better travel with a caravan for protection or better yet, just stay home.” If that was our conclusion, we would totally miss the point that Jesus was making.

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To understand the Parable of the Good Samaritan, we looked at the geography and topography of Galilee, Samaria and Judea, we looked at the long and tumultuous history of the relationship between first century Samaritans and Jews, and we discovered that all of us have been in the shoes of the Levite, the Priest, and the Man Beaten by the Robbers. Some of us have been in the position of the Good Samaritan; we learned that when we sacrificially help our neighbors, we usually end up looking straight in the face of Jesus. One group that we did not discuss last week was the character of the “robbers.” Whether we like it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, all of us have been in the shoes of the “robbers.” We may not pounce on some unsuspecting soul and beat them to within an inch of their life, but most of us have been in their shoes. We “rob” others when we disrespect or objectify them, when we try to manipulate and control them, when we treat them disrespectfully even if we pretend that we have their best interest in mind. Who among us does not have a shirt or a pair of slacks that we paid very little for, made in some third world country, probably by child labor working in terrible conditions and getting very little in return for their efforts?

Parables are simple stories about our lives. Parables are simple stories that were meant to make us think.  Parables are stories that paint for us a picture of who we are today and give us a vision of who we might want to become tomorrow.

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Who among us has never said, “Oops!”? Who among us has never said, “I guess I did not think it through very well?”! Who among us has not said, “I wish…” and then realized that we are not willing to pay the emotional price or do the necessary work to make whatever we wish for a reality?

Today I want to talk about the Parable of Ten Young Women. Sometimes this parable is referred to as the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. Let us listen to the words of the parable.

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Matthew 25:1-13 NIV2010 The Parable of the Ten Virgins

25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

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It is totally possible to hear this parable and make a mental note that the next time we are invited to someone’s banquet we better bring some extra supplies, just in case we have to wait for the party to start.

It is totally possible to hear this parable and say, “Wow! I am so glad that I am saved and that I am already on the inside of the church.”

It is totally possible to hear this parable and say, “These ‘wise’ women are so selfish! How can they turn a deaf ear to the needs of their neighbors?”

It is totally possible to hear this parable and say, “These ‘foolish’ women totally missed the boat! How can anyone in their right mind not know that they will need oil for their lamp?”

Except this is not a story about who is saved and who is not; it is not a story about sharing and social justice; it is not a story about studying for the Second Coming of Jesus.

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This is a story of how our vision shapes the world that we live in. This is a story about the Kingdom of God and our role in making that kingdom a reality.

On a personal side this parable asks each of us the question, “What is MY vision for MY life?”

Most of us spend more time planning our two week family vacation than planning the other fifty weeks of the year. And I know that many of us are retired, but you can relate to the fact that we spend lots of time and effort on parts of our lives that are not all that significant, instead of concentrating on what needs to happen in order to accomplish something major. Today’s parable asks each of us, “Will the actions that I take, will the life that I live, will my behavior, thoughts, and efforts take me towards what I hope to accomplish with my life?”

When we are surrounded by alligators it is hard to remember that our initial objective was to drain the swamp. Today’s parable is about (1) having a vision for our lives and (2) keeping that vision clear in front of us to help us to navigate our lives so that we do not find ourselves surrounded by alligators.

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Today’s parable also asks a question of our church. That question is, “What is OUR vision for Christ United Methodist Church in Chestertown, MD?”

Vision is about being able to answer a simple question, “Will the actions that we take, will the life that we live, will our behaviors, thoughts, efforts, mission and outreach take us towards what we hope and want our church to become?”

When we lack vision we cannot answer this question. Because we cannot answer this question we tend to analyze and over-analyze everything, and a final result is paralysis of analysis: NOTHING gets done. That is true in our personal lives, and it is also true in our lives as a community.

Churches that are vibrant and grow are involved in mission and outreach. They do that not because they need money to fix their roofs, to fix their heaters and to fix their stained glass windows. These churches do that because Jesus sent us to make disciples for the transformation of the world.

I do not know a single church that does not want to be vibrant and to grow. I know a lot of churches that are not willing to do what they have to do, adjust where they have to adjust and adapt where they have to adapt in order to make that wish a reality. Parables are simple stories that paint for us a picture of who we are today and give us a vision of who we might want to become tomorrow.

The vision for our church is not something that is easy to define and it is not a task that should be taken lightly. Our current mission statement is, “To share the love of Christ through: teaching, preaching, fellowship, support, and outreach.” Notice that there is no mention of making disciples. There is not even a hint of stepping out on faith. I think it is time for us to start thinking of what our church will become in the next fifty years, what God is hoping to accomplish through us and how we will be a blessing to our neighbors.

{Q & A}

{Open Chancel Rail}

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