Joshua 24: 1 – 3a, 14-25
Wisdom of Solomon 6: 12-16
In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen
Be Prepared. This is the hallmark of boy scouts. The Cub Scout Promise
I, promise to DO MY BEST
To do my DUTY to GOD; And my Country
To HELP other people, and To OBEY the LAW of the Pack.
We can all think of times that being prepared either really helped us of the lack thereof really left us in a bind. When Hurricane Rita hit New Orleans the people were woefully unprepared. Three weeks later Ike hit us but we all had a chance to learn, in those three short weeks, just what we needed to do to be better prepared and it helped save lives as well as temperaments. We don’t think much about being in the dark or having enough fuel for our generators except in emergencies. Back in Jesus’s time it was not easy to go to the store and buy supplies just like it was not easy for us to buy supplies before or in the aftermath of the hurricanes. We must think and plan ahead.
Jesus told this parable about the kingdom of God. It concerned ten young women who were part of a wedding party. The bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. But only five of the bridesmaids were wise enough to fill their lamps with oil. Only five were prepared. So when the bridegroom was delayed, five of the ten bridesmaids ran out of oil and had to go buy some more.
The bridegroom came, of course, while they were gone, and the bridesmaids who were prepared went in with him to the wedding feast. When the five who had gone to buy more oil returned, they found the door to the wedding feast locked. They missed the feast because they were not prepared. “Therefore keep watch,” the Master said, “because you do not know the day or the hour.” That is not simply a good idea. It is a direct command from our Lord. Keep watch. Be prepared.
Soon our children will be waiting and watching with great expectancy for Santa. They are not waiting with fear and dread. They are waiting with eager and joyful hearts. It troubles me that so may Christians look toward the future with doubt and dread.
There is so much silliness and so many scare tactics surrounding the portrayals of the Second Coming of Christ that it is difficult to take them seriously. Many of the books and movies that purportedly picture Christ’s return are clearly intended to scare believers into repentance. Well, we all do need to repent. We do need to clean up our lives, but the coming of the Lord, whether at Christmas or at Christ’s return on the last day ought to be something Christ’s followers look forward to with joy. We ought to be like little children whose mother and father love them so very much, but one has gone on a long business trip. Now they can’t wait for the mom or dad to come home. We must wait not with fear, but with faith. Doesn’t the thought of a little child’s sense of wonder and anticipation on Christmas Eve bring joy to your heart with a smile? That is how we need to look forward to Christ’s coming.
The point is to be prepared. Be prepared so that if you dropped dead this moment, you would have nothing for which you have to apologize. Be prepared so if you were offered the biggest promotion in your life, you would be ready to step into your new role. Be prepared so that is some tragedy entered your life, you would be able to ride out the storm, because your prayer life was rich and you knew you had a Friend.
Our church also needs to be prepared. We do this by having everyone fill out a stewardship form that asks you to share your time, talents and treasure. Our budget for this year is $ 37,500.00 with a projected income of $ 30,000 which is $ 7,000 in the red. We have an exciting future as a community with unparalleled growth ahead. Sixty five billion – yes, billion dollars are coming into our community for new projects. We will have untold numbers of people coming to build and run these new projects. There are many subdivisions and areas being developed right here in Moss Bluff as well as in other areas of the city. St. Andrew’s needs to live into this exciting future by being poised and ready for more families.
How do we get ready? First and foremost each of us must fill out the pledge form and get it back to the church. Either mail it or put it in the alms basin during the offeratory. Here are a few of the items the vestry will be getting bids on so that we can look ahead and be prepared:
1. Putting in a stove and oven that is electric. The current ones are gas and there has been a long-standing problem with leaking gas. When the church is not protected by a sprinkler system or fire alarm system, it is imperative that we take steps to have this project done. For the past couple of years all the meals and hospitality we have shared have been heated in a crock pot or the microwave.
2. One of the next most important tasks is to build our regular offering to support the actual work of the church. We need a lawn mower. Currently we have two fantastic men (Earl and Kevin) who are taking turns mowing the campus with their own mowers. Think of the wear and tear on these personal mowers. We have not even reimbursed them for their gas. Bids were taken on having someone mow the church property. They ranged from $ 250 - $ 350 dollars per time.
3. Having special events like Trunk or Treat bring our church to the people in our community. It allows us to be a missional church as our bishop has recommended. Each one takes volunteer efforts and special supplies. Our St. Andrew’s Day Celebration is coming up and we will need to be prepared.
4. Another project is restoring the Outdoor Chapel. We want to work with one of our Boy Scouts who has an Eagle Project coming up very soon. The top of the altar will need replacing but the rest of it just needs to be refinished. Boards surrounding the chapel are needing to be nailed down but not necessarily replaced. The iron work if very rusted. It needs to be sandblasted and painted.
5. A final project would be to remove the closet opening up the room where we have adult Christian Education to enlarge our gathering space. This area is used so often because of its proximity to the kitchen. We eat here on Wednesday evenings. The two Alcoholics Anonymouns groups use it. Our EYC meets here as do our Boy Scout group.
Even if we have everyone volunteering their time we need to have supplies.
Please prayerfully consider your gift of time, talent and treasure this year. Our budget meetings will be held during the month of December so we need your response back by November 30th, St. Andrew’s Day.
Now let’s go back to the gospel for just a minute.
The parable ends with a stiff warning. Since no one know the day of the bridegroom’s return, all must be ready at any time. Wise persons will make all the necessary preparations; they will not be caught asleep.
We might be tempted to ask why the five prepared maidens would not share their oil. This parable is about being spiritually prepared. We cannot do the spiritual preparation for anyone else. We only do it for ourselves. Spiritual readiness is not something that can be transferred from one to another. The point is that one must take steps to furnish oneself with oil BEFORE going to sleep -- while one has the chance.
This week let’s take time to prepare. Reflect on the gifts you have to share with the church. Have you tried to live off the “oil” of someone else’s faith? If so, whose: your parents, friends or spouse? If you knew Jesus will return next week, how would you live your life differently?
Reflect the things that are not serving you well in your life and make a plan to do something about them. Just take one step toward the type of preparation you most need. We then can sleep soundly knowing that we "promise to DO our BEST; To do our DUTY to GOD; And my Country
To HELP other people, and To OBEY the LAW of the Pack." AMEN.