One of our students preached a thought-provoking three minute sermon in Ridley Hall this morning, and I'm grateful that she's allowed us to publish it.
She says, some years ago my friend’s father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. One morning she came downstairs and found her dad, on all fours behind one of the arm chairs. Jane said “ Dad are you all right, what are you doing down there?” He was going around the house checking all the fuses in the plugs! 2 days later he died.
This story has stayed with me - this gracious man not just getting ready for his own death, but preparing others for a time when he would no longer be with them!
Just after New year my next door neighbour Mike died suddenly overnight. He was 64 and although he suffered with emphysema, It was still a shock. Mike was alone and it struck me not only how unprepared I was for his death, but left me wondering ‘how prepared was he’? As Matthew tells us “ Keep awake therefore for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Earlier in Matthew's gospel Jesus calls us to be salt and light in the world. As I thought about my relationship with Mike, I wondered how well had I reflected that light, what kind of picture had I presented of the Kingdom of Heaven? Had my lamp been spiritually full of oil, lighting up the path so that he could see the way? In theological College we spend a lot of time focusing on our own journey: it’s easy to be forgetful and leave behind what really matters.
We can find ourselves turning our backs, heading off in the opposite direction and when we return, have missed the opportunity. Are we the foolish bridesmaids, whose lamps are going out. Do we present a dim view of the Kingdom, or do our words and actions ‘shut the door’ to others, long before our lamps go out ?
Or are we the wise bridesmaids? Do we carry “spare flasks of oil”, the spiritual resources to trim our lamps? The willingness, to love, serve and nurture. The openness to share Christ’s amazing Grace, preparing all people so that they are ready to meet him and go with him to share in the wedding feast !