How much is enough?
I have gone spelunking, exploring a cave where few people have gone before, where there are no paths, no handrails, and no lights. On such explorations our guide expected each participant to carry not merely their own flashlight, but also a backup. One flashlight should be sufficient, especially if it has reasonably fresh batteries. The flashlight I typically carried would last several camping trips without incident. But being in a cave is very different than a night out under the stars. On a camping trip, a dead or lost flashlight is merely an inconvenience, for even on a cloudy night enough light filters through to allow one to walk cautiously back to camp. But in a cave, once the lights are out, there is nothing but darkness. Darkness so deep and so complete your hand is hidden even when touching your own nose.
Jesus told a parable about ten bridesmaids who had gone out to await the arrival of a bridegroom. In the first century an oil lamp would provide light for several hours, typically more than enough for a grand parade to the bridal feast, even allowing for a modest delay that typically occurs. Yet in this parable, five bridesmaids carry extra oil, just in case. When delays deter this bridegroom’s arrival more than anticipated causing everyone’s lamp to run low and sputter out, the other five scurry to find more oil and miss the party.
But what does this oil signify? And how do you get it? And how is it useful each and every day?
I will have more to say about Matthew 25:1-13 at 8:15 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 12<sup>th</sup> at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor