23 Pentecost - Matthew 25:1-13
In the dark middle of a long tunnel between the beginning of the pandemic and an end we cannot yet see, on the heels of an agonizing presidential election, at the beginning
of our annual stewardship season in a wobbly economy, the gospel gives us an episode of Mean Girls.
There were ten virgins, Jesus said, so the translators changed it to bridesmaids in case the kids are listening..
There was a 50-50 split and a delayed outcome.
The five wise virgins, who were members of your political party, lugged along extra oil.
The five foolish virgins, obviously from the other party, did not.
All ten were waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom at the house he has prepared
for his bride, to welcome the newlyweds and get the party started.
As Southern Californians know, delays are always possible around Las Virgenes.
Day slipped into evening into night.
All of them, wise and foolish alike, fell asleep, which has been a theme of recent stories:
Jesus has been encouraging his disciples, who are sleepwalking through life and will soon fall asleep on him as he prays in Gethsemane, to keep awake.
The Son of Man comes like a thief in the night, or a pandemic, or a diagnosis, or a phone
call that changes your life, or a shout at midnight.
Have you ever been groggy and giddy at the same time, woken up suddenly in the
middle of the night by a dream or a ring tone or a touch or an idea?
From deep slumber, even good news starts scary when it startles you.
So now we have ten half-awake teenage girls scrambling to light their tiki torches quickly in the dead of night.
Hashtag Panic at the Disco.
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 because they are foolish, they listen to this cruel advice and head to the 7-11 which
won't open in their village for another two thousand years.
They end up shut out of the party, the tragic outcome of a cautionary tale.
It didn't have to be this way.
What went wrong?