Year A Proper 27 Matthew 25 2011
The Tragedy of the Unprepared Life
Matthew 25 : 1-13
There's a true story that comes form the sinking of the Titanic. A frightened woman found her place in a lifeboat that was about to be lowered into the raging North Atlantic. She suddenly thought of something she needed, so she asked permission to return to her stateroom before they cast off. She was granted three minutes or they would leave without her.
She ran across the deck that was already slanted at a dangerous angle. She raced through the gambling room with all the money that had rolled to one side, ankle deep. She came to her stateroom and quickly pushed a side her diamond rings and expensive bracelets and necklaces as she reached to the shelf above her bed and grabbed three small oranges. She quickly found her way back to the lifeboat and got in.
Now that seems incredible because thirty minutes earlier she would not have chosen a crate of oranges over the smallest diamond. But death had boarded the Titanic. One blast of its awful breath had transformed all values. Instantaneously, priceless things had become worthless. Worthless things had become priceless. And in that moment she preferred three small oranges to a crate of diamonds.
There are events in life, which have the power to transform the way we look at the world. Jesus' parable about the ten virgins offers one of these types of events, for the parable is about the Second Coming of Christ. But Jesus doesn't come right out and say this. Rather, he let's the story describe it for him. The woman on the sinking Titanic understood, in the light of her current circumstances, that she must make preparations for living on a lifeboat. Diamonds would not suffice, only the precious resources of an orange were good enough. Likewise, in this world where Christ may return at any moment, the parable warns, we must be ready.
What is this parable suggesting to us?
- First, it is saying some things in life that cannot be borrowed.
- Secondly, I think that the parable suggests that there are some things that cannot be put off until the last moment.
- Third, the parable suggests to us that, if we are not prepared, we can miss our great opportunities.
Life Is Yours
"If it bleeds, it leads." Have you heard that before? "If it bleeds, it leads" has long been the mantra determining the biggest news stories on any given day. The more gory, gruesome, or grizzly a tale to tell, the better chance of it grabbing our attention and keeping us tuned in. Bad news, dour predictions, impending disaster, keep us riveted.
So it is little wonder that "risk management" has given us all sorts of "disaster preparedness" plans—-personal, community, state, and national.
We get flu shots.
We get pneumonia shots.
We make a family "escape plan" for getting out of the house if it catches fire.
We keep an emergency roadside kit in the trunk of our car.
We participate in "fire drills" and "emergency evacuations."
Some of us are "prepared" enough to stockpile bottled water, canned foods, prescriptions medications, batteries and blankets. We buy new snow boots, jackets and gloves for the kids before the first snowfall. We lay in another cord of wood. We semi-seriously consider that this year we will get that generator.
During the height of the Cold War, the most prepared-for-the-worst built bunkers, underground nuclear bomb shelters, and stocked them for a decade of undercover existence.
Preparing for disaster is something . . . we are prepared for.
What about being prepared for . . . . joy?
What about being prepared for . . . . pleasure?
What about being prepared for . . . . blessings?
The traditional Boy Scout motto of "Be prepared" taught generations of kids lots of useful skills. But those "skills" were put into practice by going fishing, rock climbing, toasting marshmallows over a campfire . . .fun stuff! They were preparing for good times, not just bad.
As Christians we are called to "be prepared"--but not just for all those "trials and tribulations" that grab the headlines.
Today's gospel text tells us in parable form how Jesus wants us to be "prepared," so that we can...