IT'S ABOUT TIME - ADVENT SERMON ON ISAIAH 64:1-9 AND MARK 13:24-37 - FR. JOSEPH C. ALSAY, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Excerpts of a Sermon Delivered on the First Sunday of Advent
November 29, 2020
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
Isaiah 64:1-9 & Mark 13:24-37
“It’s About Time”
There’s no time like the present, the saying goes. But on the First Sunday of Advent: there’s no time like the end of the world. We begin a new church year, not with champagne toasts, party hats, and a countdown. But with apocalyptic imagery about the darkened sun and stars falling from heaven.
It’s about time. The end of the world fascinates us. Sometimes terrifies us.
When life becomes too much to bear, it feels like the end of the world as we know it.
Unending violence, people dying from a virus that renders people helpless. Sadness and cries for justice. The longing for reforms in the criminal justice system.
When hope dims. It’s about time. When our dreams falter. It’s about time. When God seems far away. It’s about time. We join the Israelites in their lament. “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down.”
We feel hopeless before the problems of the world. Oh, if only a Facebook post. Or a financial donation. Or a protest. Could save us. Could save our earth. And yet, act we must Speak out, we must. Yearn and pray, we must. It’s about time. Come and save us, O God.
The rapper and activist Prince Ea expresses his fears and hopes in a piece called, “Why I Think This World Should End.”
The world is coming to an end
The air is polluted, the oceans contaminated
The animals are going extinct, the economy’s collapsed
Education is shot, police are corrupt
Intelligence is shunned and ignorance rewarded
The people are depressed and angry
We can’t live with each other and we can’t live with ourselves
So everyone’s medicated
We pass each other on the streets
And if we do speak it’s meaningless communication. . . .
Race is still an issue and so is religion
Your God doesn’t exist, my God does and he is All-Loving
If you disagree with me I’ll kill you or even worse argue you to death
Pride is at an all time high, humility, an all time low.
Those who first heard the gospel of Mark read aloud had lived through the end of the world as they knew it- the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet they waited for Jesus’ promised return. The apocalyptic imagery instilled in them hope for a brighter tomorrow. One biblical scholar calls the New Testament a “survival manual for those living at the end of the world.”
Violence. Destruction. Despair. Maybe it’s always the end of the world. Maybe it’s always about time.
Yet our Lord comes even today in places of suffering, vulnerability and need. Watch therefore the unexpected sign. The unexpected gift. The unexpected hope.
We are invited into the unexpected season of sacred waiting of holy expectation.
In this time, we long for Christ to break into our lives. We are preparing our hearts, homes and hearths for the presence of God’s ever-present Spirit.
Oh, we’ve all been in a time of waiting. We have been waiting for over nine months for this pandemic to be over. Now, we are called into a place of stopping and listening to that “still small voice.”
We are called to slow down, to take stock of our lives and see the One in whom our salvation is found. Even in the midst of the trials and tribulations we all face, even when things seem to be at their worst, God has a way of breaking through.
It’s about time for another chance. That’s the message of warning and hope this day.
It’s about time for a new beginning. In our end is our beginning, words of T.S. Eliot.
Or as Prince Ea ends his piece:
Each of us can work to change a small portion of events
And in the total of all those acts
Will be written in the history of generation
So yes, the world is coming to an end
And the path towards a new beginning starts within you.
Yes, it’s about time as we look in joyful expectation to the God who offers us love, hope, peace and joy.
There is no time like the present so, keep awake!
~ Fr. Joseph C. Alsay, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
REVERENCES AND BOWING DURING THE EPISCOPAL SERVICE - DR. GIL HAAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Reverences are often practiced, but not required by the Book of Common Prayer. One common reverence stems from Paul’s letter to the Philippians when he stated, “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow...” which has become associated with a simple bow (nodding of the head without bending at the waist) at the mention of Jesus’ name. Some traditions also suggest a simple bow when the processional cross passes or at the invocation of the trinity. Many perform a moderate bow (where one’s shoes can be seen) during the preceding and concluding responses before and after the Gospel. Some also perform a simple bow at ”God” and “worshiped and glorified” during the Nicene Creed. As a sign of worship, some perform a profound bow (one could touch one’s knees) during the “Holy, Holy, Holy” at the Sanctus and upon entering and leaving a pew. In acknowledgement of Christ’s Eucharistic gift to us, some perform a profound bow during the Eucharistic prayer’s words of institution, “For in the night...etc” (Catholic) and in acknowledgement of the invocation of the Holy Spirit (Orthodox). Reverences should never be inferred to be rules, but they are simply individualized signs of worship.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
Las Posadas is a novena (nine days of observance commemorating the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy) from December 16th to the 24th. Las Posadas is Spanish for “lodging” which refers to the inn with “No Vacancy” in the story of Jesus’ birth. Some historians believe that Las Posadas rose from the ashes of holidays on the ancient Aztec calendar. Tonantzin Guadalupe (the mother of the gods) was celebrated on the winter solstice, and missionary priests transformed this pagan festival into a Christian celebration. Others believe that the tradition originated 400 years ago in Mexico to commemorate Mary and Joseph’s searching for a warm place to spend the night in Bethlehem. Regardless, either a couple dressed as Mary and Joseph riding on a donkey or statues of the couple are processed. In some traditions, the Holy Family is denied entrance at several homes until they reach the designated “lodging” for that evening. Here Mary and Joseph are welcomed, and the Holy Family and guests (often including musicians and children dressed as angels and shepherds carrying lit candles) enter, pray, and sing around the Nativity scene. After a festive meal, a star-shaped piñata is broken open.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
STRANGERS - A SERMON ON MATTHEW 25:31-46 AND EZEKIEL 34:11-16,20-24 - FR. JOSEPH ALSAY, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Excerpts of a Sermon Delivered on the Feast of Christ the King
November 22, 2020
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
Ezekiel 34:11-16,20-24 & Matthew 25:31-46
I just wanna be a sheep, Ba Ba Ba. And I pray the Lord my soul to keep. I just want to be a sheep. That’s one of the favorite songs from Vacation Bible School that the kids love to sing. For those of you unfamiliar with the classic, the chorus highlights our desire to be a sheep and the verses say what we don’t want to be: A Pharisee (cuz they’re not fair you see) or a Hypocrite (cuz they’re not hip with it) or a goat (they haven’t got any hope, nope.)
While this is a really fun song to sing with all the actions and word plays, it doesn’t mean much to most of us city dwellers. What do we even know about sheep? And why would we ever want to be one?
So yeah, I just wanna be a sheep; but maybe focusing on which animal to be misses the point of the story. It seems like an either-or-choice, this sheep vs. goats thing. And we know all about that in our modern life: Republican or Democrat, Sooners or Cowboys, northsiders or southsiders.
But no matter what side you might think you’re on, the thing that both groups had in common in this parable from Matthew was they were both surprised by what Jesus says. Both ask, “When? When did we. . . . ?” and when didn’t we. . . ?” Both were surprised, expecting a story of winners and losers, of right and wrong, of good and bad, realizing that they both had missed the experiencing the Holy One in their midst.
Jesus was hanging out with the least, the last, the lost; and both the “sheep” and the “goats” didn’t realize he’d been there with them in the middle of daily life, in all it mundane and messiness.
We really don’t expect to meet God in the lowly places and lost people. We don’t expect to see Jesus in the face of the disadvantaged, the poor, the imprisoned, and all of those in need. Typically, we think of God in the lofty places of power.
In this parable Jesus promises to always be with and for those who are in the greatest need. For God continues to come where we least expect God to be: in plight of the homeless, in the vulnerability of the sick and dying, on the side of the poor, with the powerless and abused. So, if we want to experience God’s presence most fully we will look for God in the needs of those around us and in our own needs as well.
That’s why we’re here.
When the church is at her best, people can see Christ in us and through us.
So you say “Show me.” Seeing is believing.
When did we see you hungry and give you food or drink?
When the $3,000 worth of groceries was bought for unexpectant people during the Brotherhood’s Annual Grocery Buy.
When 540 breakfast burritos were cooked and distributed last Christmas Eve.
When 100 gift backpacks were given to the residents of Jesus House at our Annual Christmas Eve Party.
When over 700 Easter baskets were filled and distributed to the needy.
When at the beginning of the pandemic, $7,200 dollars was raised that was matched dollar for dollar by the Vestry for the Regional Food Bank.
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothing?
When we gave out 500 bottles of water and cookies to those who used our church as a polling place on the 3rd of November.
Each time we distributed over 600 socks, gloves, scarfs, mittens, hats and coats to those who were cold, homeless or in need.
When we gave out over 10,000 pieces of candy for over 750 cars that drove through our Trunk or Treat.
When baby items were collected for a mother who was in crisis and whose water broke while she was in middle of our Commons Area.
When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?
When the youth group made and wrote cards for Covid-19 patients at Mercy Hospital.
When we made 113 visits to the homebound and sick members of this church.
Every Sunday we pray for the Jess Dunn, Joseph Harp, Davis, Eddie Warrior, Kate Barnard, Mabel Bassett, Enid Community and OKC Correctional Centers.
And there’s the surprise.
“Do we recognize God in the face of our neighbor?”
~ Fr, Joseph Alsay, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
THE CELEBRATION OF THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING - DR. GIL HAAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The Feast of Christ the King was instituted on October’s final Sunday by Pope Pius XI in 1925, but it has been celebrated in Catholic and Lutheran Churches on the last Sunday before Advent (today) since 1970. Although this feast is not on the Episcopal calendar (although it is unofficially celebrated in some Anglican churches), today’s Collect for the last Sunday after Pentecost (the same day as the Feast of Christ the King) is freely borrowed from the Collect for the Feast of Christ the King in the Roman Missal. The Catholic feast celebrates the all-embracing authority of Christ’s messianic kingship and sovereign rule over all of creation (it may help to whisper the words to Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus as you continue reading). Despite its official omission by the Episcopal Church, note the parallelism between the Catholic feast’s intent and our Collect in today’s service which prays that God, “whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords,” will “mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule.”
~ Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
THREE FRIENDS - WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY FR. TONY MOON, CHILDREN'S MOMENT ON MATTHEW 25:14-30 - ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
I want to tell you a story today, a story about three acorn friends that grew up together to become large oak trees.
These three acorns became fast friends—even as little acorns. As little acorns, they didn’t know that they’d spend their long lives together, and become even greater friends than they were as little acorns. The little acorns settled into the ground, and soon sprouted a tender green shoot out the top, and tiny tendril roots out the base.
Season upon season passed, year upon year, and the three acorns grew from little saplings into small trees and then turned into a triangle of trees: one here, one there and the third one, there. Most trees grow slowly, and these trees certainly did. That slowness is not a bad thing… they took their time becoming tall, mature trees. They learned a lot along the way of many, many years of growing and maturing, too. They learned a lot about growing up.
They were always near people… they got to see friends talking; children playing; and picnics on blankets spread beneath their limbs. Generation after generation grew up beneath their limbs… Parents would bring their children to come play under the shade of the leaves of the three oak tree friends. Those children grew up and became parents themselves. And their children played around these three tree friends, eventually growing up, and having children themselves. Getting to silently watch people all these years, the old oak trees grew wiser and wiser.
Late one fall night, their limbs rocking rhythmically to a cool breeze, a dark figure came near and stopped directly in the center of their tree triangle. He dropped to his knees, as if to pray, but instead, this man started digging, scratching at the earth with his hands.
The hole he dug was not deep. He then brought a small tin can from his coat pocket, and dropped it in the hole. He covered the hole, disguised his recent activity by scattering dirt and leaves over the hole, and was soon gone.
Months passed, and the secret in the ground remained undisturbed. The three tree friends wondered from time-to-time what might be in that little tin can that lay buried between them.
It was early one spring afternoon when the stranger returned, searched around a bit, and heaved a huge sigh of relief. He quickly uncovered the can. As he stood to leave, he was met by someone else. The three tree friends could hear a bitter conversation between them. Soon, the can was handed over to this angry person.
“I thought you’d invest it!” she said. She was so angry, she seemed a little out of control.
“I…I…I didn’t know how! I’m no good with money at all!” the man stammered.
“At least I didn’t lose what you’d trusted me with.”
“But, I wanted more, and you gave me nothing!”
Turning to what seemed to be an assistant, she barked,
“Give this to the one who made me the most money.”
And you…” spinning back to man who was now bent over sadly, her finger pointing like a knife,
“You, you will have nothing! Go on—get out of my sight!”
The three oak friends stood silently for the remainder of the evening and most of the next three days.
In their silence, they thought about friends talking, children playing, and picnics on blankets spread beneath their limbs.
Their tree bark absorbed those feelings of joy and love, and they cherished them. The old oaks mourned when humans treated each other poorly, because their tree bark, of course, also knew human anger, aggression, and greed.
These tall witnesses stood, and wept.
Finally, the silence was broken when one of the oaks said, “So he wasn’t good with money…”
Quite a while passed when another of the oaks said, “I heard that there were others who managed money quite well.”
Again, some time passed, and the third tall witness wondered out loud, “Why did they not help him?” … “Why did they not help him?”
The next questions arose from the three friends all together, as with one voice:
“And, who will help him now that he has nothing?
…Are we not in this life together?”
And so, this concludes our story of three little acorns who grew up to be three tree friends. They saw something strange happen beneath their limbs when a man buried a can full of money there. And then they saw something even stranger happen when people were mean to one another.
This story is based on our Gospel lesson for today where Jesus is teaching about loving one another, caring for one another, and helping each other when we are in need. This is what Jesus did during his time on earth, and this is what Jesus wants us to do, as well!
~ Fr. Tony Moon, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
A SERMON ON MATTHEW 25:14-30 - LOVE OURSELVES, LOVE GOD, LOVE ONE ANOTHER - FR. TONY MOON, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
November 15, 2020
24th Sunday after Pentecost
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jesus tells a teaching tale of a master who is going away, summons his three servants—slaves, as they are called in this version—and entrusts them with large amounts of his money. The sums are awarded based on his assessments of the servant’s abilities. And, the sums are significant— converting to today’s US dollars, the amounts range from around $600,000 at the least, to several million dollars at the most. Upon the master’s return, he calls on the servants for an accounting of the money left them.
So, just what is Jesus teaching here? This teaching tale is generally thought to be Jesus preparing his disciples for that period of time when Jesus, through his death, will not be with them until his resurrection. Jesus is instructing these disciples to endure difficult times and to live in anticipation of their master’s return. Like all the parables in this section of Matthew’s Gospel, it exemplifies the certainty of the Lord’s coming and how the disciples are to live in the meantime.
On the surface, this is a simple story. But, the story is not without complications, as we will explore. The first and second servants somehow double their master’s money, but the master runs into some trouble with that third servant—let’s call him “Al.” This is where we run into trouble, as well. Al was assessed to have limited skills, and was therefore given little to work with—well, little at least in comparison with the other two servants. I say that the master runs into trouble with Al because, according to the text, the master expects that Al will return little, but apparently was not expecting that no return would be forthcoming. “…you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest,” the master scolds. A quick footnote here is that banks were new on the scene, and not entirely trusted, while burying your wealth in the ground was at least common practice.
Obviously, dealing with Al is where the master runs into trouble—but, I also mentioned that this is where WE run into trouble, too. I believe that we run into trouble when we read this Gospel lesson, framing it within our commonly-held modern-day view of the world’s economy. This world economy may have something to do with money, but it is not strictly a financial economy—it can also be a behavioral economy. The world economy of our culture has a lot to do with how we interact with one another. This economy says, “me first”; “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”; “only when you give something, will you get something.” It is a transactional economy. Reading the Gospel through this lens, it points us in a specific direction that says Jesus / God, has expectations for us. And make no mistake, the stakes are high! If we do not multiply what we are entrusted with, we may find ourselves painfully put out of God’s Kingdom—with nothing.
Through this lens, this Gospel lesson is often mis-categorized as a prosperity gospel—that God expects and demands that we do well, that we improve our lot in life. God rewards those who prosper with more than they will ever need. Coming from this prosperity perspective, we also see that God punishes the timid, the meek, and the risk-averse. This is one way we can run into trouble with this Gospel lesson.
If we hold onto this interpretation—that the master represents God, the financial gifts given to steward for a time symbolize our God-given talents and abilities, we run into a problem with trying to square that vengeful god with a God known to be a loving Creator; a Supreme Being who sent a Redeemer to save the world; and gracious Sanctifier to bless and guide us daily along our path. Rather than a loving God, this hostile god strips away his gift, gives it to a higher performing servant, and throws Al out into bitterness. Is this really how we expect God to respond to our fears, our weaknesses and limitations?
If we back away from our ordinary world view, if we back away from looking through the lens of the world’s economy of transactions and compromise, and hold a different perspective, see life and story through the lens of the Kingdom of God, we can quickly conclude that the Kingdom of God does not at all look like or operate like the Kingdom of the World.
The Kingdom of God relies on a different kind of transaction, a transaction of love—not required to play, but freely given. Now, for many of us, we might have to take some time to re-think this… because many of us as children were taught that “if only you’re good, then you can get into heaven!” This seems to be a common transaction. “If only you’re good, then God will love you,” is another. If only you’re good, then you will win God’s favor.” Fact is: God already loves us in unimaginable ways. God is not a trickster and does not test us. Rather than punish us, God sent Jesus to love us back in to right relationship with God. Even when we betray God’s love today, just as when Jesus was betrayed in his life here on earth, we are forgiven and loved. We don’t have to earn God’s love. God gives it freely. Our love of God can never be out of fear any more than our love of our spouse, children or friend can be born out of, or supported by, fear. Our love for God or another is our gift given freely in a relationship of love, a reciprocation of love.
So, if Jesus was preparing his disciples to manage in his absence, what was Jesus teaching? What if Jesus’ message was not about earning as much return on investment as you can, but what if Jesus’ message is, “Care for one another; love one another--love one another as I have loved you? Cooperate with one another rather than compete with one another. Shore up another’s weakness with your strength. Let others help you when you are in need. Live in community, loving, supporting, caring for one another.
Maybe Al thought he had to go it on his own with no help from others who were obviously more skilled in this area. This is a story of isolation. And, maybe those other servants highlight what happens when we are only focused on ourselves and our personal gain with no regard for others’ need. …still, a story of isolation! If the motivation of the other two servants was to be a winner in their master’s eyes, they may have won that race but completely lost out on their relationship with Al. Being a winner in this world’s economy might have to do with reaping financial rewards or being superior to our peers, but being a winner in God’s eyes happens when we live the life we are called to; when we become more fully the creation God made us to be; when we honor God, our lover, with all we can give out of our own gratitude and love of God.
Bringing the wisdom of this Gospel story forward to today, Jesus’ voice is heard clearly. Jesus is teaching us that in his physical absence with us, there is a way to live, a way to conduct ourselves. Now we may think that this little teaching story is not very comprehensive. But the seeds are there, and maybe that was enough for the disciples to hear. Maybe that’s enough for us to hear right now, too. If we plant that seed, which simply says, “Love one another. Love God,” we will learn to love ourselves, too. And as we do that, we can root a strong plant that will bloom and grow, bloom and grow—and, that is a prosperity God will reward.
~ Fr. Tony Moon, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
 Carla Swafford Works. Working Preacher.com; Commentary on Matthew 25:14-30
HISTORY OF BISHOP SAMUEL SEABURY, AND SEABURY FEAST DAY - DR. GIL HAAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Samuel Seabury was the first bishop of the American Episcopal Church, but his ardor as a British loyalist is less publicized. Under the pen name “A. W. Farmer”, he published three scathing rebuttals to his countrymen’s cries for independence. These “Farmer’s Letters” were so widely read that Alexander Hamilton penned three anonymous pamphlets refuting Seabury’s points of argument. In 1775, as the independence fervor escalated, Seabury was arrested and imprisoned by a band of patriots. Despite his earlier loyalist views, he was supportive to the new American government at the war’s conclusion. In 1783, Seabury was elected as America’s first Episcopal bishop. Having no Anglican bishops in America to consecrate him, he sailed to London hoping for consecration there. However, English bishops refused since he would not take an oath of allegiance to the King. Not deterred, Seabury traveled to Scotland where he was consecrated bishop in Aberdeen on November 14, 1784. This date (yesterday) was later named a feast day on the Episcopal calendar. Because of Seabury’s tenacity, the British parliament subsequently allowed ordination of foreign bishops cementing a relationship between the American and English churches.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
OLDER REVERANCES IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH - DR. GIL HAAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Formerly practiced liturgical reverences include bowing to the processing celebrant (genuflecting to the processing Diocesan Bishop). During the Gloria tradition suggested bows at “God”, “we worship thee”, “we give thanks to thee,” at both “Jesus” and “Christ”, and “receive our prayer”. Readings’ traditional introductions were, “The reading is from the xxx chapter of Blessed Xxxx the Apostle’s Letter to the Xxxx, beginning at the xxx verse”. In the Creed, a genuflection was suggested at “and was incarnated by the Holy Ghost”, and a bow was performed at the mention of Jesus and the word “God” (the latter to balance the reverences honoring the other two members of the Trinity. Bows were traditionally done at mentioning the Virgin Mary, saints on their feast days, and at “thanks” at the beginning of the Prayer of Consecration. The sign of the Cross was made at, “deliver us from evil” in the Lord’s Prayer. At the host’s elevation, the exclamation of St. Thomas, “My Lord and my God”, was softly spoken while making the sign of the cross. Echoing the Centurion, one’s chest was lightly struck at the words, “And although we are unworthy...” in the Prayer of Consecration and “have mercy upon us” in the Agnus Dei.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
KEEP YOUR LAMPS TRIMMED AND BURNING - A SERMON ON MATTHEW 25:1-13 AND WISDOM 6:12-20 - FR. JOSEPH ALSAY, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
Wisdom 6:12-20 & Matthew 25:1-13
“Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning”
I’m all for being prepared. But we all know what it’s like to feel unprepared.
Eleven days ago when we were pommeled by the unexpected ice-storm. That event left over 350,000 without power. In fact, some 40,000 Oklahomans are still without electricity. What it has taught me is to be prepared. After six days of being without lights and heat, and almost becoming a human fudge-cicle I learned that I need to purchase a portable generator and to make sure I have an ample supply of fuel on hand to run the generator.
We all live with the worry that we won’t be ready. That something will catch us off guard, will wake us from sleep, and we’ll find that we don’t have enough oil in our lamps.
The ten wedding attendants are waiting for the bridegroom. Who knows why he is so late! So, the ten catch some z’s. And when the announcement comes that the bridegroom is on his way, five of the bridesmaids find they have no oil in their lamp. And the other five won’t share! So, the five unprepared ones set out to buy some more. But when they return, they are shut out of the reception. Only the five so-called wise attendants get to go to the great party!
But does this parable make you feel uncomfortable?
We’re a society that doesn’t get enough sleep. Was it really that bad that the bridesmaids dozed off? And the five wise ones didn’t share what they had- - isn’t that a bit selfish? Jesus seems to be all about sharing to the point it sounds like socialism. Give the shirt off of your back to someone in need. And these “wise girls” won’t even share any of their oil.
But the clincher is that, the door is slammed in the face of the foolish five.
Imagine being one of the attendants not let into the wedding reception.
Have we missed opportunities?
Have we not done the things we’ve wanted to do?
Have we not used our time and resources wisely?
Have we been sleeping through life?
When we we’re running low on energy or hope, do we go to the dealers, trying to buy something to fill the void?
We live in uncertain times. We hear of Covid-19 cases rising at an astronomical rate. We hear of the recent social unrest. We hear plenty about the shortage of oil. We hear plenty about the financial meltdown. We hear plenty about rising unemployment, fear of recession, wondering whether we will have enough for retirement. All of the current problems in our country have a lot of people worried. Plenty of reasons to worry whether we will be ready and prepared for the challenges of life.
But truth is: we will run out of oil. We procrastinate and say: someday I’ll work on my relationship. Someday I’ll spend more time with my kids. Someday I’ll get back to painting or whatever I really love. We all put off. We all doze. But eventually comes the cry: he’s coming. It’s time. One of those days is TODAY. It’s the only day we have.
Yes, we live in uncertain times. As the bare and now broken trees remind us, someday our time will run out. And we will have to rely on whatever oil is in our own flask, our own body, our own heart. It’s not something we can borrow from someone else. It won’t come from our investments, our good intentions, our long-range plans. The oil will be our baptismal identity as a child of God. The oil will be the presence of God within us.
The oil will be the unbelievably good news that we have another day to live and that really, we have everything we need, everything that we could ever hope for. Through it all faith has endured.
That’s why, when night surrounds us, and we wait for the morning to come, it is important to have oil in our lamps. We need to tend our oil reserves.
There are certain things you can’t borrow from someone else. You have to have it for yourself. And learn how to live awake to the gifts in each day.
Those wedding attendants have one purpose: to light the way of the bridegroom. And then to bask in the joy of the marriage celebration.
Look, the bridegroom comes. Look, Christ comes among today. And the days grow darker we keep our lamps trimmed and burning. Not out of fear, but because this wake-up call could not come at a better time.
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.