The story of the ten bridesmaids is a story of anticipation and readiness which encourages us to be awake and prepared for the return of Jesus “because you do not know the day or the hour”. It was addressed to the disciples in private as they sat with him on the Mount of Olives. In Zechariah 14:1-21, the prophet is looking forward to the time when the Lord will stand on the Mount of Olives and be recognised as king of all the earth. The coming of the day is uncertain as is the coming of the bridegroom.

The kingdom of heaven is like this: it’s like a wedding banquet when the bridesmaids wait for the arrival of the bridegroom and greet him with a procession of light in the darkness with with their lamps which are filled with oil and lit in readiness. The bridegroom is delayed, and the bridesmaids have fallen asleep. Half of them have not anticipated a long wait, and do not have enough oil to keep their lamps burning, so go to find some more oil. During the time they are away, the bridegroom arrives. When they return, they are refused entrance to the wedding banquet.

Do we live as though Jesus will come again? We don’t know how or when, but we believe we will meet him face to face. How are we preparing for this meeting? In Matthew the tasks include bearing witness to Jesus by welcoming the stranger, visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, and sharing the love of God in the world that Jesus came to save; by living the life of Jesus in our world. Let’s do it! Be prepared!

Rev Adelene Mills