November 8, 2023
Pastor Cathy Daharsh
“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)
As I tell all couples when I meet with them to plan their wedding, “something will go wrong.” I also say, “Don't worry, I will do my best to make you look good. If anyone looks bad it will be me.”
Weddings are full of emotions. Often, couples (and sometimes parents) are heavily invested in the event with time, resources, and high hopes. Since weddings are loaded with so many emotions, they can be fragile events with lots of potential for things to go very wrong. Wedding couples are often stretched thin, and deep feelings come easily to the surface. There are tears at weddings, of profound hope, but sometimes anger, resentment, and frustration too. On Sunday, I plan to tell a wedding story of something that went wrong -- but ended up just fine.
In the Gospel reading this Sunday, the groom for some reason shows up late. He is really late, and many of the people waiting at the party fall asleep. Finally, at midnight he shows up. As tradition was, the bridesmaids were to greet the bridegroom with lighted lamps. In the parable, half of the bridesmaids were not prepared. They forgot their lamp oil and needed to run to the store or someplace, but it was midnight, and they ended up missing the procession.
The early Christians had to adjust to the reality that Jesus didn’t return as they expected, and that their mission was to wait expectantly and live faithfully and hopefully. It’s still our mission. Christian hope holds onto trust that God will continue to love the world, and will continue to redeem and save the world by coming into it with love and grace, in Jesus Christ. Yet, many of us are genuinely frightened about where the world is headed, and emotions are high. Freedom, justice, and compassion seem fragile in the face of the forces of oppression, injustice, and violence.
Living in hope doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen. Quite the opposite, it means living confidently and expectantly, trusting that God continues to come into life with compassion, redemption, and hope. The challenge is to keep enough oil on-hand for the lamps when the bridegroom appears, to roll up our sleeves and work for the love of God that is always coming and breaking into our world. Each of us needs to hear the good news that the bridegroom will come, that the love of God will continue to appear in our lives in surprising and unexpected ways.
I hope to see you Sunday as we come together with our many varied emotions, trusting in God’s work in our lives and the world. Amen.