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Sunday Devotion: 8 November 2020, Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday Devotions

Challenged to be wise and not astonished!

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Written by clergy and lay people across our Diocesan community, ‘Sunday Devotions’ is a column of short reflections based on a Lectionary reading of the day, suitable for small group discussion or personal use.

Main Readings: Joshua 24.1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 78.1-7; 1 Thessalonians 4.9-18; Matthew 25.1-13; [Amos 5.18-24; Psalm 70]

Supplementary Readings: Psalm 96; 1 Thessalonians 4.1-8; Judges 2.7-19; Psalm 63; Matthew 24.21-35

“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day or the hour” (Matthew 25.13)

I have a number of eccentric relations. One that readily springs to my mind is my Uncle Michael who used to ride a motorbike wearing a cassock and Cowley cloak in the English winters to visit his other nephews at their boarding school! But it was not just his dress and means of transport that were eccentric, it was also the way he thought and acted. I remember that he once told me that life was rather a puzzle and it was as if he had taken a fourth vow, not just of chastity, poverty and obedience, but of ‘holy astonishment’!

The ‘foolish bridesmaids’ in Jesus’ parable seem to have taken this same vow. They really had no excuse for not being prepared to greet the bridegroom; after all, they knew that he was coming, albeit not when, and so should have taken precautions, as did the ‘wise bridesmaids’.

I have often felt sorry for the foolish bridesmaids when reading this passage and am reminded of a cartoon I once saw of a little boy outside an old fashioned sweet shop with his face a picture of longing for the goods inside that were out of reach! Now, unlike the little boy, these bridesmaids did have a choice, but did not choose to act wisely.

In Jesus’ parables the onus is always on the listener to listen, to understand and to act accordingly.

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