We prepare for things we really care about; we anticipate things that are important to us. Those persons that really care about hunting make careful preparations for the season and anticipate opening day. People who have season tickets to the Green Bay Packers and care about football make appropriate preparations for attending games at this time of year and look forward to game day. And weddings are events that take all kinds of preparation because families care about the marriage that will occur; in fact, since I raised three girls, I can testify first hand that wedding plans begin in 3rd grade for females.
People come to the things unprepared largely because they do not value the event enough to be ready for it. Casual hunters and fair-weather footballs fans go home when it gets too cold because they are not adequately prepared for the conditions. Quickie weddings happen in Las Vegas where two people are not prepared to have a marriage that lasts a lifetime. In other words, unprepared people tend to drop out of things when it gets too hard. If they do not value the event enough, they just do without it. But if they really care about it, they prepare for it, have patience through it, and persevere in it when things get tough.
Just because someone professes Jesus as Savior and Lord does not necessarily mean: that the person has Christ as their ultimate value; that they care enough to live into their baptism; that they will avail themselves of the means of grace at the Lord’s Table; that they will value the event of worship each Sunday; or, that they will continually make it their aim to love God, each other, and their neighbors. The true test of authentic commitment comes when things are not easy and it takes blood, sweat, and tears to see something through.
There are few human events more freighted with emotion and preparation than weddings. Parents invest heavily in time, energy, resources, and love in order for their kids to have a nice wedding. And there are all kinds of potential for disaster to occur at a wedding. Since I have done my share of weddings, I can tell you that a lot of things go awry in the preparation process and at the wedding itself. I have had bridesmaids pass out, grooms forget the ring, and families fight like cats and dogs in the narthex just as the bride is ready to come down the aisle. All kinds of crazy stuff can happen with a wedding. At my own wedding, Mary’s bridesmaids were literally sown into their dresses by the seamstress just hours before the wedding; one of my groomsman did not show up because, it was found out, he was in jail; and, we were married on the hottest day of the year – it was 100 degrees, which did not go so well for a bunch of women who were trying to have their best ever hair days.
But we got married anyway. The wedding happened because it was important to us. I think it is interesting that Jesus chose to tell a parable using a wedding in order to tell us what the kingdom of God is like (Matthew 25:1-13). The bottom line about this particular parable from Jesus is that the five foolish virgins were not ready because they did not care enough to be prepared. This, at face value, might seem harsh. But not having the oil they needed for their lamps in that day would be like in our day having half of your bridesmaids show up at the wedding at the last minute in jeans and t-shirts without having done their hair and expecting to stand up with the bride. No bride or groom or family in our culture is going to roll with that kind of behavior. And the reason it is not going to be allowed is because bridesmaids who show up not prepared in the way they should is deeply offensive to the bride and groom.
The five wise and five foolish virgins point to the mixed nature of the church. The church consists of both faithful authentic disciples of Jesus, as well as wedding crashers.
Jesus tells us to keep watch, because we do not know the day or the hour when he will return. So, the big question for every professing believer in Jesus is: Are you prepared? We are to be in a state of constant vigilance, being always alert for Jesus to show up. It is one thing to profess Christ; it is quite another thing to live each and every day doing God’s will and being prepared for Jesus to return. Let us live in the light that Christ’s Second Coming is immanent and be ready for his glorious appearing.