Trinity 27 - The Sunday of the Ten Virgins
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
November 22, 2015
Central Passage
Matthew 25:1-13

In the name of the FATHER and of the + SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT.

Two weeks ago, on the twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity, our Lord spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem and the abomination of desolation, teaching us to flee this world and all that it might offer by removing any visage of safety within it. Then last week, the twenty-sixth Sunday after Trinity, our Lord taught us about the separation of the sheep and the goats; of the inheritance and the good works that follow us into eternity, giving us hope and lifting us from this destroyed world where the abomination of desolation stands in the Holy of Holies, to the world to come that will be full of goodness and love.

And now, today, since we are still in this world and not in yet in the promised inheritance of last week’s teaching, the Lord teaches us to be prepared for the coming of our Bridegroom. That’s the point of the parable of the Ten Virgins: be prepared. Be ready.

I’m sure we all know people who are good people and yet do not attend the Divine Service, the Lord’s Service to all mankind. I’m sure we all know those who are just like us. They’re clean-cut, upstanding people. Maybe they even think of themselves as Christians, at least in the moral sense. (Which is really no Christianity at all.) They’re the kind of people you want as friends and neighbors. Yet this one thing they lack: they do not call on the name of the Lord. They are the five foolish virgins. They look just like the five wise virgins; same in every way save one: they have no oil. They are not prepared for the Bridegroom.

That’s what the oil is that the wise virgins have: preparedness for the Bridegroom. The wise are prepared so that even if they fall asleep they will wake up prepared. The fools are not so prepared. The fools, with all their appearances as being part of the Church and living the so-called Christian life, perhaps as Christmas and Easter Christians, they are not in the congregation of the wise. They have their cutesy one-liner plaques hanging in their homes and they put nature scenes on Facebook with some out-of-context Bible verse that makes them feel good, but they are not prepared. Show them a crucifix and they stumble over the stumbling block. They are offended by the rock of offence.

But the wise virgins, they are prepared. You are prepared, O wise virgins. But the natural question arises: What does it mean to be prepared? How can we be prepared? How do we know we are prepared? Because you do the things of the prepared.

How does a ball player know she’s a ball player? Because she does the things of ball players. Same with a musician, a dancer, or a lawyer. So the prepared do the things of the prepared. What are these things? Daily prayer, attending the Divine Service out of love for the Lord and a desire for His blessing, and loving others.

Today our Lord reminds us to do those things that the wise do. They keep their mouths shut and do not gossip. And when they open their mouths it is to thank God, to praise Him, and to bless others. Fools gossip and run their tongue. The wise gather to Christ to learn from Him and to be blessed by Him. Fools gather to Christ to impress Him or others. They will have their reward. The wise wait patiently on the Lord, not counting troubles as evils but considering them the love of a Father who trains those He loves. The fool complains that all this suffering is worthless. The fool lets the suffering teach her rather than letting her Father teach her through the suffering.

Every day is Today. Therefore the Scriptures say, “Today when you hear His voice do not harden your hearts as in the day of the rebellion when they complained against the Lord to see

whether He was among them or not.” When you rose up Today, did you pray? Did you make the sign of the Holy Cross and say, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”? Did you recite the Creed, your faith and the faith of all the saints? Did you pray the Our Father, asking for His will, His kingdom, and your daily bread, which is not just food for the stomach that is expelled, but for the heavenly manna that changes you from mortal to immortal, from lowly to heavenly, from sinner to saint? Or was bitterness in your heart? Was pride your morning meal? Was gossip the word that you heeded?

The love of God changes us. Unless we resist the change. And why would anyone do that? Because they love this world. They let the world tell them who God is and how to worship Him rather than letting the Son of God tell them who God is and how to worship Him. Jesus says that they that resist His love, love the darkness because their deeds are evil. But they that have been flooded by the light of Christ love the day because their deeds are good. Thanks be to God, then, that the Light of light has shone in the darkness and illumined us with the light of truth.

To be prepared means to expect Jesus. All the time. To the one who has not yet learned to trust in the Father this expecting Jesus is a burden and easily abandoned for easier pursuits. But for the wise, expecting Jesus is easy. It doesn’t mean you don’t get to do the things you love, such as sports or singing or fishing. It does mean, however, that you know where your treasure is and that you gather to the Bridegroom’s door, which is His blessed Word and Sacraments. By these, as through means, the Lord fills your lamp with oil so that like the oil of the widow of Zaraphath, it will never run dry and there will always be enough, even when you fall asleep, resting in the promise of your Lord: Behold, I am coming.

+ In Nomine Iesu +