Saturday, October 17, 2009

Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning

Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning

Art can take so many different forms. Here, what looks like "just a bunch of old light bulbs 'planted' in some dirt inside an old aquarium" (SIL's description), the artist is bringing to life, for us visual learners, the story of ten young girls waiting to join in the wedding celebration when the bridal party made its way back to bridegroom's father's home for the big wedding fiesta. The custom was for these, not-officially-invited friends of either bride or groom, to join the procession and thus be allowed in before the door was closed.
In this story, the hour was late and all of them fell asleep, so no emphasis on alertness here.
However, their preparedness, or lack thereof, was soon evident when they were awakened by the joyful clamor of the approaching party. Only the five who had oil for their lamps were allowed to enter. The foolish could not even beg from the wise, to point out that salvation is an individual choice, it cannot be borrowed.
Of course, the modern little light bulbs in this art piece, do not resemble the oil lamps the young women were carrying (most likely of clay), except that both required oil to shed light. I was unable to see them at night, but can imagine that seeing half of them shining brightly while the others remained in the dark would speak eloquently of the sad plight of those who were unprepared for what was to come.
Preparedness indicates faith, belief in what is to come.

The preceding parable has a similar message: the faithful servants remained occupied at their given tasks until the master's return and were rewarded.
The unwise, unbelieving, unprepared, not only are unrewarded, they are damned forever.
That message is repeated in the following parable of the talents.Only those who used whatever they were given, were rewarded generously. Judgment awaited the neglectful, disobedient.

To better understand the Jewish wedding customs, I searched online and was fascinated by what I found when I googled 'the ten virgins'. The more reliable sources stressed that the parables were addressed to the Jewish nation. I cannot get into the debate about the Jews alive during the tribulation being referred to here, nor about how we could prepare to evangelize and reach out to them at that time so they will believe in their Messiah. I am not a Bible scholar.

What I am sure about is the grand wedding feast that awaits us, even as Gentile believers who have been 'grafted' into that family tree, 'adopted' into the family and the Bride of Christ, and that before Jesus left he promised, "I go to prepare a place for you."

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