Sunday Sermon by Sabelo Mthimkhulu 8 November 2020 –

An outline of the service followed is given below.

Please note: We have resumed Sunday services at 7.30 and 9.15 in the church.

INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME

COLLECT: Immanent God,

you expect us to be vigilant:

wake us from our slumber

and call us forth to greet Christ

that we may follow him to eternal light

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and ever. Amen.

FIRST READING: Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25

PSALM: 78: 1-7

GRADUAL: Jesu, Son of Mary   CP 352

GOSPEL: Matthew 25: 1-13

CREED: Apostles Creed

OFFERTORY: Brother, sister, let me serve you CP 393

Remembering those who have died in war and other conflicts

1st EUCHARISTIC PRAYER

RECESSIONAL: God we praise you, God we bless you CP 450

Sermon Sabelo Mthimkhulu

Matthew 25: 1-13

They must go because they steal our jobs

They most go because they are stealing our business

They must go because they steal our living spaces

We just don’t have enough for us and them

Doesn’t sound sounds familiar?

Today’s Gospel reading forms part of the eschatological discourse (beginning from Mat 24:1-25:46)

This section has a special focus on the returning of the Lord

And how one prepares themselves for such a time

The Gospel reading, we read today is sandwiched in between two narratives of the “faithful or wise” and “wicked or foolish” servants.

In the first narrative, the master leaves the servants in charge of other servants because he is going away, he finds the other servant “faithful” doing what he has instructed him to do and on the other hand, he finds the other servant “wicked” illtreating his fellow servants.

In the second narrative the master leaves three servants with treasure or bags of gold. These three servants are entrusted with different majors of these treasures.

When the master returns back home, the first two servants comes to him with his treasure multiplied, while the last servant (who received less) comes to him with the exact measure he left him with. He had dug a hole and hid his master’s money.

In both these stories the foolish servants are thrown outside, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Both these stories end with the warning to those whom their master finds unprepared for his return.

The story of the five “wise” bridesmaids (The prepared) and five “foolish” bridesmaids (The unprepared) seem to present almost the same. The wedding banquet itself is symbolic imagery of the eschatological banquet (Remember the story of the unprepared guest we looked at few weeks ago?).

Matthews Audiences respected and honored wedding celebration. Their wedding festivities typically lasted seven days. The bride and the groom would begin this joyous event with a procession accompanied by their bridesmaids.

The bridesmaids, Parthenoi (in Greek) meaning the “Virgins” or “Young women” would welcome the bridegroom with a procession of light in the darkness. Bridesmaids would usually wait for a groom at the bride’s home to come and fetch her. They would wait with their lamps lit for the arrival of the groom.

Unlike in our context where the bride gets delayed (putting on make-ups, fixing hairstyles, looking at herself again and again the mirror etc)

The groom is the one delayed in this case.

Matthew does tell us why the groom is delayed, in fact bridesmaids would have less to do with groom’s delay.

He wouldn’t have to even justify his lateness to them.

While waiting ALL the bridesmaids felt drowsily and slept.

The “bell” rings to notify them that the groom is on his way, they woke up and trimmed their lamps. Five of them labeled as foolish realizes that they have no oil, they ask from the other five to help them.

The five so called wise bridesmaids refuse to share with five who do not. Instead they refer them to the dealers to go buy some for themselves.

Remember its already midnight

Where will they find the dealers at that time?

If they do, wouldn’t the dealer charge them extra, knowing very well that there are desperate and have no any other choice?

Regardless of this, the five “foolish” bridesmaids leave to go search for oil. They leave their primary obligation in search for a means to an end. And it is while they are away that the groom arrived.

The groom, who was late or delayed seems to not only fail to wait for the other five “Unprepared” bridesmaids, but he also refuses to let them in when they come back.

But is he the only unmerciful person here? It doesn’t seem so

The five “wise” bridesmaids don’t seem to have grace towards their collogues, people who probably belong to their same group of friends. They all seem to be individualistic.

Yesterday I went to St Martin’s Children for their Patronal festival before St Martins day (which is this coming Wednesday).

One of the things we leant about St Martins is that he gave half of his cloak to a beggar. History tells us that a half-naked man shivered on the ground begging for help, No one stopped, no one helped until St Martin (a solder) saw him, sliced his cloak into two with his sword and gave the other half to the man begging on the street, a total stranger to him.

A cloak is a single garment, just made to fit one person, but St Martin finds a way to make it useful to two people

Him and the beggar.

I am just wondering if the five “wise” bridesmaids couldn’t have done the same

Couldn’t they have shared what seems to be not enough with their collogues begging for their assistance.

I wonder if it was just the matter of not having enough for everyone, or the matter of feeling satisfied in having what others don’t have.

Like the five “wise” bridesmaids, we all have those strong important sides of us, those parts we feel so confident in

Those parts that makes us feel better than others

And maybe feel even wiser than others, those strengths we feel interested to share them with others

Because being the only ones who have them makes us feel unique and special.

BUT also, like the five “foolish” bridesmaids we also have those side of us that makes us feel weak, less confident about, and less prepared

Those weaknesses we think we need to be assisted with

And it is in trying to compliment the need to receive with our need to give that we may rightfully wait with others for the arrival of the Lord. It is not just about me “the wise” and my God, it is about us “both the wise and foolish” and our God.

It is not just about me a South African

It is also about my Brothers and sisters who are attached day and night for being Non-South Africans
it is in Sharing, and in Loving that we may all experience the arrival of the Lord

Amen

During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account:   Account Name: St Paul’s Church      Account Number: 50854628623     Bank: First National Bank (FNB)     Branch Code: 221426