Parable of the 10 Bridesmaids
by Robin Currie
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:42
We have a lot of recent experience with waiting. Timex watches, an expert on time, reported every year Americans spend 32 minutes waiting for a doctor and 28 minutes waiting in security lines. Americans wait 21 minutes for someone in the household to get ready and 13 hours on hold for customer service.
In Jesus’ parable about the the waiting bridesmaids, they know their job is to await the arrival of the bridegroom and greet him with a procession of light in the darkness. All the maids have either lamps or perhaps torches. All are waiting with their lamps lit in eager expectation of the groom’s appearance.
The bridegroom is delayed. In reality, a groom’s delay was not altogether uncommon. The reason for the delay is not the bridesmaids’ concern. They all knew a delay was always possible. All the bridesmaids fall asleep. Both groups knew that the groom was coming and waited with their lamps burning, but only half considered that the wait in the darkness might be longer than anticipated.
Suddenly the groom arrives. The shortage of oil noticed by some. The readiness by others. The procession goes on without the unprepared. Although all bridesmaids were chosen to accompany the groom, their role as bridesmaids did not guarantee them a place at the banquet. The doors were closed, and they do not join the feast.
In this parable, it is what the bridesmaids do while they were waiting that determines the consequences. In our lives, it is what we do while we are waiting that will determine the consequences. What do we do while we are waiting?
We do as the early disciples did: show the world what the love of God has meant to us in our lives. Not knowing the day or hour or future, we act in the present. We do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, tend the sick, pray for the dying.
We are creative, resourceful, encouraging of others. We listen with love, we speak with kindness, we act with grace. We simply pray and smile. Pray for a suffering country, buy one extra bag of rice to donate, contact one person, say a real “thank you” to someone in your household, let someone cut in front of you in traffic, smile, because we all carry burdens.
Acting in love is how Christians stay ready. We do all these because we have been blessed with the all-encompassing love of God. Our best joy is to share a hope that surpasses even death with the world that aches to hear it.
Award-winning author Robin Currie led children’s departments of Midwestern public libraries before being called to ordained ministry. She has a special love for children’s literacy and storytelling. She serves in Chicago area parishes and volunteers internationally teaching English in developing countries. She is the author of The Very Best Story Ever Told: the Gospel with American Sign Language, winner of the 2020 Serious Writer’s Book of the Decade. Visit Robin on her website http://www.robincurrie.net/index2.html, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Robincurrieauthor/ or via email email@example.com.