Faithlife Sermons

You Snooze You Lose : 31Mar19

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Preparing oneself for Jesus' return

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Introduction

[Include graphic of an alarm clock, or bring an alarm clock from home.]
Who here wakes up by an alarm clock? If that’s you, do you use the ‘snooze’ feature? How many times do you hit snooze? I use my Amazon Echo device as my alarm clock. Many mornings I forget the word ‘snooze’ and rack my brain trying to delay getting up. Have you ever ran out of snoozes and went back to sleep? If so, what happened? What excuse did you give your boss?
T/S The title of the sermon explains this parable. “You snooze, you lose” means missing out on what’s important because you missed an opportunity you should have been prepared for. That’s what happened to the 5 foolish bridesmaids.

Retell the Story

Paraphrase it.

EXPLANATIONS

[Include graphic of the 10 Bridesmaids]
Note the weirdness: Would shops really be open late at night? Would the groom really arrive at midnight?
This is a parable, and not necessarily meant to convey historicity. It’s conveying a truth, a point Matthew wants us to understand. So he’s telling the story for an ultimate purpose, even with its twists and turns.
The Lord’s return could be both a future event or our death, when we unexpectedly die and see God. Either way, we need to be prepared for our death.
Note the similarities between the wise and the foolish. You cannot determine who the wise and foolish are at first. They both look alike. They were both asleep. They both brought oil. They both were expecting the groom.
Strange: That the wise refuse to help the foolish, even though other passages recommend such generosity (e.g., give examples).
Explain the metaphors: The bridesmaids are the churches, the good and the bad. Some translations have the word ‘virgin’ which is what the text actually says. The oil is their acts of righteousness, or being obedient to the Torah, depending on who you ask. We wait by following God and doing good, rather than constantly watching for the end.
To me, this is a powerful reminder that some churches get it and others don’t. Or, maybe they once got it but have forgotten it. Like the 5 wise bridesmaids, they expect the Lord, they brought oil which means they worship God and do acts of righteousness. They sleep too. And they wait. The difference is that they didn’t bring extra oil. They do enough to be called a church but, after awhile, they use it up. They don’t do more than is expected. They do just enough. But when the Lord comes, they have run out. Their flames have burnt out.
Lately, I have been thinking about the mission and vision of our church. We do lots but lately there seems to be something missing. [Elaborate—but be mindful of what you want to say and how it’ll be received.]

Conclusion : Application

[Include graphic of waking up refreshed and stretching.]
Lately, I have been thinking about the mission and vision of our church. We do lots but lately there seems to be something missing. [Elaborate.]
The more I understand this parable, the less I think it reminds me of an alarm clock going off to get me up. It actually reminds me of waking up before the alarm clock ever chimes. Have you ever done that? When I get to bed on time the night before, get enough sleep, and sleep soundly, I very nearly wake up each morning before my alarm clock would have gone off. It’s like I have done everything right so I don’t wake up paranoid or anxious.
As I understand the parable, keeping ready means I am not anxious about my future because I live each day, or most days, by loving God and doing good. I feel at peace with my faith and how I live. I don’t worry about tomorrow. I am happy with who I am becoming or, sometimes who I already am.
Readiness for Matthew is, of course, living the life of the kingdom, living the quality of life described in the Sermon on the Mount. Many can do this for a short while; but when the kingdom is delayed, the problems arise. Being a peacemaker for a day is not as demanding as being a peacemaker year after year when the hostility breaks out again and again, and the bridegroom is delayed. Being merciful for an evening can be pleasant; being merciful for a lifetime, when the groom is delayed, requires preparedness.
So then, let’s live well today—instead of waiting until we’re older, retired with more time on our hands, after our kids are grown and we have extra money to be righteous. Let’s not wait for a scary medical diagnosis to force until thinking about life eternal. Let’s not go to our death beds wondering if this God thing is true or if we’ve lived our lives with integrity, worship, and acts of charity. Let’s do it now. If we wait, the end of our days will be filled with anxiety, doubt, and fear. And, we might discover we don’t have any extra oil in our lamps after all. Let us pray...
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