Third Sunday before Advent – Sermon 206

9th January 2016 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

3rd Sunday before Advent

10 am Holy Communion CW

6th November 2011

Bible References :

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Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ






Today’s readings are all about the wise and the foolish – and how they viewed a great celebration


Its about those who have prepared – and those who have not prepared


Those who are watchful – and looking out for God’s justice  – and those who are not


Those who are ready to be involved on God’s terms – and those who turn up on their own


Point 1        Looking the part is not enough


In our Gospel reading Jesus tells us  the parable of the foolish bridesmaids –


Ten bridesmaids dressed and ready for their important role in the festivities – took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom –


Five were wise and took extra oil with them – to make sure they could fulfill their duties –


and five were foolish because they believed that the oil within their own lamps was all they needed


Both the wise and the foolish – wanted a short wait –  they all wanted the groom to come soon – but only the wise provided themselves with what would be needed for the long haul –


Jewish weddings have several stages  –  Traditionally they were performed outdoors under the stars  – as a reminder of God’s blessing bestowed upon Abraham – that his children will be as numerous as the stars –


and the custom of the day – was that the bridegroom would lead the bride home – accompanied by friends and be greeted by the bridesmaids carrying lamps – In honour of the couple – before entering the banquet –

The bridegrooms exact time of arrival could never be  predicted –  He might be delayed at an earlier venue –but the crucial thing for the bridesmaids was to be ready – for when He arrived


The five foolish bridesmaids had seen the five wise bridesmaids make their preparations  – but they had decided to make do with what they had in their lamps –


They looked the part – but they hadn’t made a full commitment to carrying it out –


Amos in our OT testament reading had made a similar observation about the Jews in his day –


Amos was a shepherd and a farmer – a prophet in overalls – living at the time of Jonah and Hosea – a southerner with a mission in the north


His name means burden- bearer –  he was burdened by the sins of the people –  his simple life led him to see the evils of life in the city –


For Israel it was a time of prosperity – and materialistic growth – but the money was going to those in privileged positions – oppression of the poor -dishonest business – bribery in court – was an everyday occurrence


Amos warned Israel that you can fool men but you can’t fool God –


The nation was looking forward to  ‘Judgment Day’ because they thought it would mean the destruction of their enemies –


but they hadn’t thought to include themselves in God’s judgment –


Their ceremonies had become empty rituals with no heart – no commitment – no trusting in God and His righteousness – their priorities were all wrong – Amos tells them they needed to change – move back to what God really wants of  them – before its too late  – they were far from ready to meet God –


They were like the foolish bridesmaids who didn’t realise they needed the oil until the bridegroom appeared  – and as they – found out – what others had prepared – they could not borrow –


Just because we – come to church –  with other people of faith – doesn’t mean that that’s all we need to do – we cannot rely on the faith of others to get us through – our faith must be our own – we need to offer ourselves in mercy and allow Jesus to become part of our own personal –  experience


When the day comes – for us to meet the Bridegroom – there will be no hiding place – and for those who have not prepared sufficiently – it could be a time called ‘too late’


Point 2        We need to fill up with oil


So what can we do to change?


Well like the 5 wise bridesmaids we need to fill our lamps and our flasks with oil – accept the love that Jesus offers and make sure that the Bridegroom can be seen in His full Glory –


Jesus’ light needs to shine brightly – His love and message of forgiveness and salvation needs to be  visible throughout the whole of our world  –


Like the Bridesmaids – we are His torchbearers – and we need to show our commitment to Him – and to the love that He gives – by fulfilling our part – and fulfilling it well –


We need to make our relationship with Jesus our highest priority –


Get to know Jesus as a brother and a friend – serve Him – welcome and respond to His love  – follow and imitate His ways –


Some are quick to convince themselves that the way they act does not really matter – well it does


Our God wants faithfulness – righteousness and justice –  He needs to see it in us – and to know that our love and commitment to Him comes from the heart –


Point 3        The wise will be chosen


Jesus is the bridegroom – the Messiah – given to our world  – by God – for the salvation of all –


His death on the cross – and His resurrection – is our way to the great banquet in heaven –


His sacrifice for our sins – has given us a pathway to God’s  door –


There is no way that any of us can be saved – except through the grace and love of Jesus –


as the foolish bridesmaids came to realise we cannot buy our relationship with God – at the last minute –


only those who are ready to meet Jesus will be admitted – those who are known to Him and who have shared their life with Him – and He with them –


As Paul reminds the Thessalonians – we all need to – invest in heaven  – our God is the God of all – the past – the present and the future – and He holds us all in life – the dead as well as the living –


while the 5 foolish Bridesmaids – were away making their preparations – the Bridegroom arrived  –  and those who were ready – went in with Him – to the banquet and the door was shut –


when the foolish bridesmaids came later – they were refused entry – the bridegroom did not recognise them –


We must make our preparations well – and we must make them before its too late –




Weddings the world over  are occasions for joyful celebration – coming to a climax at the wedding banquet – and eating together is the most natural way of making any occasion special –


Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding banquet – and the scene of the greatest banquet of all – will be the future feast of the lamb – anticipated in His parable – and recorded in the book of revelation –

when Jesus’ victory over sin, wickedness and evil –  will be celebrated-


One day we will all arrive at God’s banquet door  – and He will know how seriously we have taken His word –


As Jesus reminds us – those who are wise – and have done their best to prepare well – will be chosen – He will say whether knows us or not – we will either go in with Him – or the door will be slammed shut –


The foolish will remain outside


So starting this Guy Fawkes weekend  – As the bonfires and fireworks light up the sky  – lets make sure the light that we carry for Jesus burns brightly –  and tells everyone that the bridegroom is here – to offer salvation to all – and for those who are wise enough to accept and to follow – its really a time of great celebration and joy –


Closing prayer


In the  name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Amen –