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Left In The Dark

Women In The Wings
20 Biblical Monologues
Making It Preach

Though this parable points out that we know neither the day nor hour the bridegroom (named Jesus) will return, we are admonished to be ready. With the exception of small groups of Christians some might call fanatics, contemporary Christians have lost the sense of urgency our ancestors in the faith felt regarding Christ's return. We figure he has already been gone so long that the likelihood of his return during our lifetime is pretty low. Yet, as our bridesmaid friend points out, the amount of unfinished business many of us face could take quite a long time to sort through and correct. We must also remember the point Jesus made in his story about the man who decided to build bigger barns to store his wealth for the future -- there may be no future (Luke 12:16-21). Death could bring us before Jesus at any moment -- will our hearts and minds be ready? Will evidence of our faith and eagerness be there when Jesus comes to invite us to his eternal feast?

Making It Play

In the days before movies, ball games, and laser tag, weddings were a welcome form of entertainment, especially the multiple-day festivities often celebrated during Jesus' time. The bridesmaids had to wait due to the custom of the bridegroom collecting his bride from her parents' home and bringing her to his for the celebration. This bridesmaid could adorn herself with a fancy tunic and head covering that makes her look young and ready for the special occasion she just missed, or she could simply treat this as a memory and wear a simple tunic and head covering. If it would be more believable for this to be a memory from her girlhood, go ahead and fit that into the story. Either way, the exuberance of youth should be heard in her voice as she tells the story. If you have a Middle Eastern clay lamp, please use it for reference. However, it would be better to pantomime than to use a more modern western lamp.

A "Foolish" Bridesmaid Presents Her Side Of The Story

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise (Matthew 25:1-2). Now, Jesus may have made us up in his head and everything, but I think it was a little hasty to call some of us foolish. He could have said we were not-too-prepared that night, or maybe we were just go-with-the-flow kinds of gals, but foolish? I don't think I like that. Let me give you another side of the story.

Life had gotten really boring around our village: get up, do some chores, make a meal, do some more chores, make another meal, lay down, get up and do more chores ... I mean a girl needs a little excitement now and then. But one day, we found out that the agreement was made. My cousin, Zach, would be marrying Leah, the daughter of Benjamin who oversees the vineyard. And, you know what that made the young people around here think about? It's time to party! I love to dance, and when we have a wedding feast, it is nothing like those private one-day little affairs you have in your country. The entire village and surrounding community is invited, and it usually goes on for days. It would be pretty hard not to get caught up in the excitement. The smells of good food and freshly washed garments, preparations in the village square -- you know, even though it means more work to get everything ready, nobody seems to mind because we finally have something fun to think about. Even the elders, who try to look so serious most of the time, smile as much as anyone else during the wedding feasts!

So, you're wondering about that night, aren't you? You're probably asking why, if I was so excited about the celebration, I got shut out of the main feast? This is why. (holds up a small clay lamp) Not very big, I realize, but I grabbed it at the last minute. It had recently been filled with oil, so I figured it would burn long enough. How was I to know that Zach would be so long in picking up Leah and bringing her to the feast? They obviously weren't in a hurry! There were my sisters and I, and the other young women, dressed to kill, ready to dance and eat and check out the single men, and we waited, and waited, and ... well we'd been up since before the sun shone that morning doing chores and then getting ourselves ready, and most of us hadn't slept well because of all the excitement. So, we fell asleep. Finally, about midnight, shouts in the distance woke us up. We did our best to straighten ourselves up, and prepared ourselves to join the happy couple for one of those all-night-long parties.

Then, I looked down, and my lamp started flickering. I thought it might have been the wind, but then I realized, there wasn't any wind. "Wouldn't you know?" I thought to myself. I wanted to ignore the fact that my lamp was running out of oil, but my eldest sister Mariah was watching me like a hawk, bless her heart!, and said I had better get more oil, pronto. You see, it's not like we had street lighting to help us out. No lamps means you can't see anything when the moon is waning. "You could trip and dirty your clothes," Mariah in all her wisdom told me. Because her voice is less than quiet, all the others looked at me, then the same thing was pointed out to a few of my friends who also brought no extra oil with them.

"Come on, give us a little of yours," I begged, "it can't be that much longer." But, it was like talking to stone walls.

"We don't have enough for all of us. You know where to buy it. Get your own!" Don't you just love sisterly compassion?

So, off we went, trying to walk as smoothly and quickly as possible so that we wouldn't run out of oil before we made it to the dealer. We could hear the laughing and shouting in the distance, and my first impulse was to say forget it and run to join them. However, if I got stuck in absolute darkness before I got to them, that would not have been a good thing. God was good and got us to the dealer's house before we had completely run out. One thing we hadn't counted on, however, was that he was fast asleep. Apparently, he didn't think he had too many midnight parties left in him, so we had to bang on his door and bang and bang! When he did open up, he was less-than-pleased to see us, and we really had to do some fast talking to get him to sell us some oil in the middle of the night. He was kind of grumpy and not real with it, since he'd just been awakened, so he took forever getting us the oil, all the while complaining about how tired he was and how he needed his rest for the festivities tomorrow and how grateful we should be that he was not going to just leave us in the dark. I looked at my friend Tabitha, and I could just tell she wasn't hearing a word he was saying, that instead she was trying to judge how far along the wedding procession was getting as we stood there.

Finally, we got on our way and took off at a quick pace, hoping to catch up with the procession before it reached the place of the feast. But, then, my sandal got caught on a rock and ripped. That was it! I didn't care anymore. I took off my sandals, we all did, and hurried as quickly as we could to the feast. By the time we found everyone, they were well into the party, the ceremony was about to begin, and our feet and the bottoms of our garments were pretty dirty. So, when Zach saw us about to enter, he took this attitude with us. I suppose he felt we didn't care about the celebration since we were late and didn't look so hot, so he said, "I do not know you," and he sent us away!

Not know us! After all we had gone through to get to that party, he sent us away! Can you believe that? One of the few chances for excitement in our lives, and we missed the best part because of this! (holds up the lamp) I was about to smash this little baby against a rock, but Tabitha stopped me, "Do that and we'll really be left in the dark! At least we've got a light to find our way home. That's something." I think I liked her better when she was a skinny little kid who didn't say much, but she did have a point. On the way home, I was thinking about how excited I had been for weeks, and how the highlight of the whole shebang was soon going to be over, without me. It's funny how you can start out so excited, get yourself busy preparing for the feast, dream of what it will be like to celebrate, but when the time comes, you find out you haven't prepared well at all.

I guess that's what Jesus was trying to warn you about by calling us foolish. Only, since you have electricity, he was talking about your faith, not your oil, how your faith in God and your enthusiasm for God could run out before Jesus returns to take you from this life to be with him forever. If I didn't have time to get more oil, how are you going to have time to get things right with God and clean up the messes in your life? How will you clear up that misunderstanding with your son or coworker? How are you going to make up for all you didn't do for the old lady across the street? How are you going to say you are sorry to all the people you hurt or cheated? How are you going to get yourselves ready with so much left undone? It takes time to clean them up and you don't know how much time you have. I am part of Jesus' imagination and I even don't know that! But, like Tabitha said, you do have a light to lead you home. Jesus himself gives you a light by letting you know how to clean up your sins and turn to God, and God, unlike my cousin, will take you in even without shoes or if you're dirty and tattered. You just need to be ready to turn to God, with a heart that has dealt with regrets and mistakes and is ready to move on. And, if I could do it again, I'd do everything I could to arrive at the feast on time, rested, clean, and determined to celebrate. I told you I'm not foolish ... at least not anymore! Shalom.

New & Featured This Week


C. David Mckirachan
"Hook and Line" by C. David McKirachan
"When?" by C. David McKirachan

Hook and Line
by C. David McKirachan
Mark 1:14-20

I went fishing with my father as a child. The scene those words probably paint in your head is not the way it was. He went with others when invited, taking me as a companion. It always seemed to me he was there but not comfortable with what went on. I inherited his attitude about hook and line.


Arley K. Fadness
“And Jesus said to them, 'Follow me and I will make you fish for people.'” (v. 17)

Good morning boys and girls,

So fun to see you today. How are you? If you were a smiley face what would you look like? Would you be sunny smiley or sad sack or sort of in between? (kids respond) I am a smiley face today because you are here and I have a good news story to tell you.

The Immediate Word

Mary Austin
Dean Feldmeyer
Ron Love
George Reed
Christopher Keating
In the stories of Jonah proclaiming God’s judgment to the Ninevites and Jesus calling fishermen to be his disciples, the lectionary provides us this week with two stories of God sending a simple, pointed message -- and against what might seem to be common sense, the targets for those messages actually responding to them. After all, Nineveh was a big enough city that its residents likely did not have to worry about its security -- and yet the people “turned from their evil ways.” And the fishermen at the Sea of Galilee dropped their nets and followed Jesus into a highly uncertain future.

Emphasis Preaching Journal

Bonnie Bates
Bill Thomas
Ron Love
Mark Ellingsen
Bob Ove
Frank Ramirez
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Frank Ramirez
Jonah later claimed that the reason he fled after the command of God to condemn Nineveh was he knew all along God is merciful and would forgive their sins. Is that true? How could Jonah know in advance that the Destroyer of Nations who built pillars to commemorate their atrocities would don sackcloth and ashes and repent? The rules just changed.

Although Paul’s directions are confusing he’s right about one thing -- the rules just changed. The present form of this world is passing away and we’re playing by new rules!

The Village Shepherd

Janice B. Scott
Some prisons have recently introduced a scheme whereby very dangerous prisoners who pose a high security risk earn spending power through playing sport or helping with cleaning. Thus these prisoners may be paid for playing Scrabble. This has produced something of an outcry amongst some sections of the general population. They find it outrageous that men who have committed horrendous crimes such as rape and murder, should be paid for playing games. Prison should be for punishment, they say, not a holiday camp.


Mark Ellingsen
Theme of the Day
Now is the time!

Collect of the Day
Acknowledging our call by grace, we pray for the Spirit to strengthen us to make us worthy of our call. Stress on grace and Sanctification again.

Psalm of the Day
Psalm 62:5-12
* Psalm attributed to David which refers to God as Elohim. Expression of confidence in God's protection.
* Total dependence on God (v. 7). For life is but an instant (v. 9).

Special Occasion