Readings: Matthew 25:1-13; 2 Peter 3:1-10
The season of Advent is all about preparing. We make lists of gifts to buy, decorations to put up, treats to make. As a worrier, I’ve been known to make many lists and expend a lot of energy making sure that I’m prepared for everything. Being prepared for every possible circumstance is the best way to ensure that nothing will be forgotten. But it is also a sure way to drive myself crazy with worry that distracts me from enjoying the season.
The story of the Ten Bridesmaids in Matthew 25 (vs. 1-13) encourages us to be ready for everything. The wise bridesmaids prepared for the wedding before the evening and were ready with their lamps when the bridegroom arrived. The foolish bridesmaids were caught off guard and were out getting oil for their lamps with the bridegroom arrived. He then didn’t recognize them when they called out to him. “Truly, I tell you, I do not know you.” They weren’t ready and they missed the bridegroom.
This parable seems to reinforce that preparation is an important virtue. But during this time of many preparations we can’t forget the reason the bridesmaids were forgotten. It wasn’t because they didn’t have oil but because they had left to get the oil. They weren’t present when the groom returned because they had left the room where he was to find them. They were busy making preparations and forgot what was most important, being present for the bridegroom. When we rush around attending Christmas events, planning celebrations and buying gifts, we don’t risk having a less than perfect Christmas, we risk missing the opportunity of being in the presence of the most important part of the season, Jesus.
So as the Advent season begins, let’s not get lost in the preparation and forget whose presence we are seeking. Our worry and their many distractions can keep us from the most important part. Advent reminds of the longing for Jesus to come to earth, first as a baby and, also, his future return. 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us that “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” The bridegroom still waits for us and wants us to be present for his return.
How will you remain in His presence this season? What traditions or disciplines do you practice that prepare your heart for him? Are you ready for his return?