The parable continues...
Following is an extension of the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids. This midrash was used in one of our prayer stations at this week's worship. For a full sermon on this text, go here.
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. 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.
The parable continues...
The wise bridesmaids who remained to welcome the bridegroom, entered the party lighting the way, and the crowd followed, laughing and dancing and making merry. When they arrived inside the courtyard, they saw, spreading out in every direction, tables, beautifully covered in colorful linens and set with sparkling dishes. Beyond that was a huge room – with a long a banquet table heavy with delicious foods, a shining dance floor flanked by musicians, and an air of anticipation, abundance and joy all around.
The crowd streamed through the courtyard toward the food and dance floor.
But before then could go any further, the door matron stopped the bridesmaids.
“You can’t bring your lanterns in there.” she said.
“Why?” one of the bridesmaids asked her. “We have an essential role to play!”
The door matron chuckled.
“Oh, no, no. Your role is over. The only way to be in this party is to be a guest.”
“But we’ve trimmed our lamps, and we have extra oil!” the bridesmaid protested. “Our light is what got the bridegroom here!”
The one standing next to her, nodding furiously, sputtered, “And how will people know we are the bridesmaids if we aren’t holding our lamps?”
The door matron held up her hands and gently answered, “Listen folks, here we have torches and chandeliers, fireflies in jars, bonfires and candles on every surface – more light than we need, truth be told.
There is nothing for you to do, no role to fill, no job to attend to, no place to earn. Just find a comfortable seat and enjoy the music! Fill a plate and eat! Get out on the floor and let loose! That’s all there is to it!”
She continued, “You did your part to celebrate the bridegroom’s arrival! I get it. Great job!”
Then she leaned toward them with a loud whisper, “But you do know that he would’ve found the front door anyway, right? Those lamps are mostly symbolic.”
She gestured to the edge of the yard. “Please extinguish your lamps and place them in the dirt, there, by the outer wall, to cool off. We’ll douse them with water to speed the process along.
Now, where is the rest of your group? There are supposed to be ten of you…”