O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God of constant mercy,
who sent your Son to save us:
remind us of your goodness,
increase your grace within us,
that our thankfulness may grow,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord is king: let the earth rejoice;
let the multitude of the isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and burns up his enemies on every side.
His lightnings lit up the world;
the earth saw it and trembled.
The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
The heavens declared his righteousness,
and all the peoples have seen his glory.
Confounded be all who worship carved images
and delight in mere idols.
Bow down before him, all you gods.
Zion heard and was glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoiced,
because of your judgements, O Lord.
For you, Lord, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
The Lord loves those who hate evil;
he preserves the lives of his faithful
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light has sprung up for the righteous
and joy for the true of heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘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. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” 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.” 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. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.’
Yesterday’s reading led me to reflect upon the most productive way in which we might handle the regrets we may have about our words and actions in earlier days. Today we are presented with the issue of being ever-ready for the moment when we will be called to account for all our worldly words and actions … before God himself, at the Last Judgement of all.
Throughout scripture it is made clear that there will be a Last Judgement … a moment when we will be called to account for the way we have used the many gifts that God has bestowed upon us … and God has bestowed much upon us: all the wonders of creation, the capacity to reason, our ability to love and serve, our ability to choose which path to follow through this life. In fact, everything that we call ‘life’ is a gift from our generous and gracious Creator God even if, time and time again, we fail to appreciate that.
The ten bridesmaids in today’s reading can be seen as representing humanity. Jesus divides those ten bridesmaids (the human race) into two groups: those who are faithful and prepared for the end of days, and those who are not. It is made clear that the faithful will, ultimately, be welcomed into the joy of eternal life, while the unfaithful and the unprepared will be turned away, unrecognized by God.
The question for us today is obvious: where do we fit into this parable? Do we keep ourselves ready for Christ’s coming again, or have we followed the path of worldly wisdom and self-gratification?
Many times I hear people speak of their busy lives. Time and time again people apologize for putting their Christian calling at the bottom of their list of priorities. ‘Best’ (!!!) of all, is when people speak of ‘giving Church a rest!’ I have one simple message for all these people … Church doesn’t need a rest!!! The life of faith is relentless, just as it is challenging. Keeping the flame of faith burning should be the first priority of everyone who professes a faith in Jesus Christ … even when it demands that other activities should be set on one side.
Let us pray that we might always hold ourselves in readiness for the moment when our Saviour returns. Let us pray that we might set aside human wisdom and pride, and follow Christ in faithful and consistent humility.
Prayers of intercession
That we and all people may be always ready in service, let us pray to the Lord.
By grace may the lamp of faith be for ever burning brightly in the Church. Keep all Christian people alert for the coming of the Lord and fit to enter into his presence.
We pray for a more equal distribution of the goods of this world. We pray that ignorance may be dispelled by sound teaching and that folly may yield to wisdom, so that all may share in the heritage of creation.
Help us to be provident and generous in our use of money and in all our dealings with others. May the spirit of true charity prevail in our families and in all this community.
Look with mercy on all who are grieving for lost opportunities, and bring new hope into their lives. Bring aid to the homeless and to all who feel themselves rejected by society.
We give thanks for the departed who have been called into the presence of the Lord and share with him the heavenly feast. We pray that we in our time may rejoice in the company of the blessed.
May our prayers be accepted through Christ, the divine Bridegroom.
Prayer for the week
God of glory,
touch our lips with the fire of your Spirit,
that we with all creation
may rejoice to sing your praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.