The microwave replaced the home cooked meal stirred by hand; the car replaced trodding the stoney road by foot; the steam powered hammer replaced John Henry and his steel driving ways.  Modernity has always promised to shorten the effort and lengthen the day, to turn the hands of the clock counterclockwise.

But here, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel and at end of his life, Jesus is done teaching.  He wants to talk time… the end of it.  So he tells three parables about the apocalypse, today’s text comparing the kingdom of heaven to a wedding.

Matthew 25:1-13 “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.

What made the foolish bridesmaids foolish?
Congregational Responses:
They weren’t prepared, didn’t come with extra oil.
If oil represents the Torah, living out the good works of God, then they weren’t following.
They wrongly assumed that the groom wouldn’t let them in without oil in their lamps, that invitations are earned.
They thought everything can be borrowed.
Will Willimon served a little church in rural Georgia, and one of his members had a relative who died.  So he went to the funeral in a little, hot, crowded, off brand Baptist country church.  Will said, “I had never seen anything like it.  They wheeled the coffin in and the preacher started preaching.  He shouted and fumed and flayed his arms.”  “It’s too late for Joe,” he screamed.  “…he might have wanted to straighten out his life, but he’s dead. It’s all over. But it ain’t too late for you.  People die everyday.  So why wait?  Now is the day of decision.  Give you life to Jesus.” Willimon said it was the worse thing he had ever heard preached to a grieving family… “so manipulative, cheap and inappropriate.”  His wife Patsy added, “Of course, the worst part of it all is that what he said is true.”
What made the foolish bridesmaids foolish?
Believing there’s still time to tarry.  That the microwaves and cars and steam powered hammers of the world will keep the banquet door propped open.   Apocalypse simply means the final revelation that: Time’s up.
The wise know that God has promised a rainbow in the sky, water from the rock, prophets in our ear, a vineyard to till and a seat at the Table, but God never promised that the hourglass wouldn’t run out of sand on all of us. So fill your lamps with the oil of urgency.  Break the bottle, mend the fence, end the estrangement, forgive the unforgivable, be in relationship instead of being right, freeze hell over.
Don’t wait, do it now.  Don’t wait, do it now.  Don’t wait, do it now.
Chuck Campbell said it best, “How we tell time is a theological act.”