Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Bridesmaids

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.
I've always been fascinated by this parable. I've rarely had any idea what it meant, but I've always been fascinated. It's like a beautiful jewel that I just can't take my eyes off of.

Tonight it strikes me as being one of the "counting the cost" type of sayings. Am I prepared to go all the way as Jesus' disciple? How far am I willing to push the envelope? How seriously am I willing to take his call to take up my cross and follow him?

I'm reminded of Bonhoeffer. Cheap grace is producing a Church full of foolish bridesmaids. Sure, we'll go along and wait for the bridesgroom. It sounds like fun. But when the call comes, "Look! Here is the bridegroom!" Are we ready?

It's hard to imagine who the foolish bridesmaids are if you put this parable in a strictly eschatological context. If we imagine a final trumpet and the Son of Man coming in glory on the clouds, who wouldn't jump up and go?

But what if he comes another way. What if he comes in the distressing disguise of the poor, as Mother Theresa said? What if his coming actually costs me something -- my comfortable lifestyle, for instance?

Here's what I really hear in the parable. Whatever the parable means, it says that how I prepare now will determine whether or not I'll be ready later.


LutheranChik said...

I've been reading Powell's "Loving Jesus," which I know you've read too, and I'm in the chapter talking about eschatology, where Powell speaks of having a longing, impatient expectation of Christ's imminent return. And I have to say...he kind of made me tug uncomfortably at my collar, because at least in the theological circles I tend to run in, this is approaching crazy talk...if nothing else, it's political incorrectness, because of course we're supposed to be busy taking care of other people and planting apple trees and otherwise being about God's business, not mooning over Christ's return. But...I wonder if part of the "foolishness" of our Lutheran church culture is in not taking this scenario seriously...I mean, I'm not even sure that, as bridesmaids, we're thinking, "Oh, this will be fun." I think we've convinced ourselves that the wedding is off...we're the runaway bridesmaids.;-)

Anonymous said...

Thinking about how Christ used numbers, 50% are saved and 50% are lost. Few indeed that find the way of life.

Honestly, someone said 'repentence' is the great need of our day, but hearing the Gospel and rejecting it or forgetting it is what billions of people have done.

Christ said unless you repent you to will perish. He was not emotional, did not want to hold a memorial service for the deceased, but clearly warned those still alive.

Andy said...

That's an interesting perspective. I actually haven't read "Loving Jesus" though I have read other things by Powell.

I don't know if I'd phrase it in specifically eschatological terms, probably for the reasons you mentioned, but I do have a sense that one of the great shortcomings of Christianity, both conservative and liberal, is that we've lost a sense of longing for God's redemption of the world. We lean to comfortably on the cross, saying "It is finished." We don't let our voices join those of the souls under the alter (Rev. 6:9) crying out "How long?"

We have one week of this at the beginning of Advent and then forget about it for the rest of the year.

LutheranChik said...

Hmmm...then who among The Usual Suspects in my online circle did I talk to about reading this book?????

Or...maybe this is a precognitive event. Maybe it's a message to you to go out and read Powell's book.;-)