Monday, July 12, 2010


In today's reading from the gospel of Matthew is the parable of the "ten bridesmaids," five of whom were foolish and took their lamps but no oil for them, and five who were wise and took their lamps and oil for them. Jesus ends the parable by admonishing his listeners to "keep awake!" This admonition of wakefulness and mindfulness recalls for me the ways that various religions have touch-points in which they are similar. I am not saying that all the religions are the same, and much has been written on this subject. However, there are some similar themes and even teachings that seem to resonate across traditions and between various peoples.

Being "awake" seems to be one of these similarities. The Buddha is known as the enlightened one, the one who "woke up." And in Sufism (a mystical branch of Islam), the poet Rumi has a wonderful poem in which the refrain is "don't go back to sleep."

The wakefulness here in Jesus' teaching is a wakefulness that is tied to preparedness, that we have something to answer for in this adventure of following Jesus. Just as in ancient times bridesmaids would make sure that they would have light if they needed it, we also need to do what we can do to make sure that we also are prepared. There are ways that we choose activities that move us into energy-depletion, and we forget that we also need to be ready, that we need to do what we can to stay fueled up for what may happen.

As a friend once said, "you don't fix the roof when it's raining." We need to cultivate spiritual practices that are life-affirming, and that are there to help us weather the ups and downs of life. Being grounded in spiritual practices, and being grounded in a religious community gives us ballast for those lows that happen, and also keep us grounded when the highs threaten to carry us away.

So, we must find a pattern of life that helps us to "keep awake," so we might live the abundant life and be ready for all that comes our way....

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Matt. 25: 1- 13 (NRSV)

1 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 But the wise replied, 'No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' 12 But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do not know you.' 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

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