What Matthew presents to us today, as he has throughout his gospel, is terribly troubling. This is a nightmare parable about what happens if you don’t take this life seriously in being formed as a follower of Jesus. It is based on Matthew’s understanding that Jesus, through death, resurrection, and ascension, is always with us, therefore, be ready, Jesus will return when all things are fulfilled. And it is a story about what happens if you fritter your life away.
The problem is not that five fell asleep and five stayed awake, everybody falls asleep, that’s not the issue. And this parable is not about believing the wrong things. Remember, that Matthew has no patience, no empathy for people who don’t get this stuff the first time. This is a story about five people who are not ready because they are clueless, and five people who are ready because they get it. Maybe if we put a line on a picture to make a meme, it would say, “Don’t be clueless like these people, just be ready like these people.” And, this is a story about the end of all things, and the beginning of the new, with the coming of Christ. And it is about how we live in the world, the place God has given for human habitation.
So what does being ready for living in the world God has given us look like? What does being ready for the fulfillment of time look like? It has everything to do with what we do today, in the present moment. And it has everything to do with the long haul of our lives. It is about staying focused on what is important today, tomorrow, and for the future.
Around here, at Trinity, we have a vision for being ready. We Love God, Love others, and we Show it. These aren’t just words, this is a way to be ready. Being ready is taking seriously our baptismal promises, those promises we reaffirmed last week on the Feast of All Saints. We will continue in the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers. We will persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever we fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord. We will proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ. We will seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as yourself. We will strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.
The world needs the church today. Not the institution of church, but the body of Christ. The people who take seriously these promises, and are ready with mercy, and compassion, justice and love.
The sadness I have about empty pews is not grief about the death of a church. It is the sadness for people not knowing God’s love, I am sad because so many people do not know about forgiveness, in the midst of brokenness, that people do not know or care about how good life can be when lived in the fullness of God’s embrace, and the embrace of people who are ready to celebrate the feast.
The church needs you today, you who are here, and those who are not yet here. I pray, each time before we gather on Sunday morning, that God continues to prepare the hearts of those who will come here to worship, and that God continues to prepare us to welcome all who are sent and called. The world needs the church, the witness to Christ in each other. And the witness to brokenness that so desperately looks for healing, healing that only happens when the fragments of our lives get put back together in the mystery of the bread and wine, the body and blood.
And the church needs world to keep us from being full of ourselves and our rightness.
I love you, and I love this church, and I am filled with hope, because that is what being ready is for me. Hope, that today all that I am, and all that I was, and all that I will be is acceptable, not just acceptable, but cherished in God’s sight. I am filled with hope, the loving God, loving others, our neighbor, will change the world. Amen.