Good morning! Happy birthday to my Grandma…91 today! Woohoo!
MATTHEW 25:1-13 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
I can never predict what will happen on any given day in this profession. Before the concert on Saturday, both women’s choirs rehearsed together. While Jubilate was rehearsing one of the songs, one of our resident homeless men saw an angelic face through the window. It happened to be a choir member who I must admit looks pretty angelic while singing. So he decided that he needed to come in and let her know. In addition to this being unusual to just walk in and start up conversation in the middle of the song, this man had a few things going on. He wasn’t the cleanest and he had a kitten attached to his shoulder. I had never seen him with a cat before but here he was with one in the church…and it was on his shoulder no less. He had been drinking some and although nice, was forward.
He walked right in during the middle of the song and proceeded to move towards the woman to talk to her. I watched as her eyes got bigger as he moved closer and she continued singing. I watched as he started to lean towards her. That is when I got up to help out. I moved toward the man and said, “hey there, welcome back, what can I help you find tonight?” He replied, “Oh, I just wanted to tell her that her music is angelic.” I replied, “That is so awesome…can I tell her after she is finished rehearsing and you can go to your meeting?” That seemed to be a perfectly great way to tell her and he moved on.
The best part for me was to turn around and realize that for people that are around the CoOp this was just another day…nothing too shocking. For others in the room, this was a pretty surprising encounter. They were not ready for someone to walk on in, interrupt, and then wander out. They were not ready for our expectations of the buildings being open all day long and for hospitality no matter what. I was so proud to see that the people that attend church in that space didn’t even flinch but would have probably been even more hospitable if I hadn’t jumped up due to the look of surprise on the woman’s face.
In Matthew today, some of the bridesmaids are prepared for whatever may come while others aren’t so much. It is not that they are stupid or inappropriate but they are not prepared for might appear. I could go into many theological takes on this particular parable but this morning I want to focus on being prepared for whatever might happen in God’s kingdom here on earth today. What if we expected God to show up and surprise us?
I was talking to two people this morning on facebook searching for a bit of inspiration. One immediately responded…”White Christmas…the Mr. Bones song…go!” *cough* my brother Grant *cough* which of course is super inspiring but not where I am going this morning. The other is going through a lot of craziness in life right now. And on his mind is the fact that God shows up and lets us know that God is surrounding us. God reminds us that we have value. In other words, God is showing up for my friend much like God showed up for Mary to say, “Greetings, favored one.” You have value, you are amazing, you are loved, and I will make sure people are there to surround you with that. This can be pretty surprising. While the world continues to tell us that we aren’t enough, here are people showing up in our midst to love on us and tell us we look angelic while singing and surround us with God’s presence. It’s that still small voice calling us out of our darkness to say, “you are mine.”
Today what if you noticed that God is surprising you already? What if you expected God to show up already? What if you were prepared with oil for God’s surprises or God’s arrival?
Prayer: O God, you surround us with love and light and comfort. During this season of Advent, remind us of your presence. Give us gratitude for those who just show up and preparedness for you arrival. Amen.