First of all, I want to apologize for the tardiness of this post, yesterday was quite busy. First our All Saints Day service went a little long, which meant people took a little longer to get out of the door. Then I barely had time to post my sermon from yesterday before rushing out to attend the funeral service in White Rock. But then I had to leave before it was done to make the 45 minute drive to Abbotsford to lead the installation service for Peace Lutheran’s new pastor.
By the time I got home around 6:30, I barely had enough energy to eat the 5 pieces of Church’s Chicken my wife saved for me (but I managed because I love Church’s Chicken).
I thought the extra hour of sleep from the close of Daylight Saving time would have helped, but it didn’t really. I was tired. I guess it doesn’t help that I have this week to look forward to, that while I technically have a week off I am busy preparing for this week’s service (I forgot to do so last week) and I have another funeral this Friday that needs to be planned and presided over.
But as much as I want to complain about how tough life sometimes gets, or how busy we can be, or how tired or stressed we may feel, I find that I can’t complain (not audibly, at least). Why not? Because God is good. And life with God is good. Sure, I can be stressed and exhausted, but I have the opportunity to be a part of people’s lives in a very meaningful way. I have the privilege to help people see God in the midst of their joys as well as pains. I have the honour to proclaim the gospel wherever I go, and not just because I am a preacher by profession but because God has welcomed me into God’s family and community.
Just as God has welcomed all of you.
It’s not hard to look at these texts and feel scared (try preaching on them… it is even worse). It’s not hard to feel stressed when we think about how our eternity would be spent. It’s really not hard to cower and cringe a bit when we look ahead on wonder how on earth are we going to manage life with all its hardships and difficulties. Sometimes we can pull through, but most times (if you’re like me), we’d rather just run and hide.
So when we read these texts we think things like end times and rapture. We think things like we must do this and do that or else we’ll be left out in the cold. We think things like we could never be prepared enough or ready enough or good enough, and maybe we would rather just give up or take matters into our own hands.
But instead, I see something different in these readings. I see hope. I see promise. I see the confidence in knowing that the bridegroom will arrive, and that we needn’t worry about how late or how long the wait, but that he will come, and we will be welcomed in. The problem with those who were unprepared as the text tells it, is that they decided to do things for themselves and perhaps didn’t trust that the bridegroom was actually going to show up. They went off to get more oil in the last minute and they missed out the grace and goodness of the wedding feast. And while the bridegroom seems like kind of a jerk in the way he treats those who are unprepared, but I think Jesus is just illustrating what happens when we get too caught up in our own stuff that we turn a blind eye to all that God has done and is doing in our lives now.
In the busyness of yesterday, I could easily have forgotten why I do what I do. I could have missed sight of God’s presence and peace. I could have been caught up with the stress and fatigue and I would have been left out in the cold, having not been able to participate in the joy and celebration of God’s community and promise. The hope that we have in God’s faithfulness and providence helps us, sustains us, and empowers us as God’s children.
This doesn’t mean that we need more on our to-do lists in order to be prepared and making sure we have enough oil in our lamps, but it is to say that God’s presence is coming, is here, and has always been with us, through us, and all around us. And we can trust in that hope, knowing that as busy as life sometimes gets, we are always welcome into God’s love and community, now and forever.
Have a great week, everyone!