The Gospel reading for this week tells a story of darkness and waiting.
It is a story about being prepared, about knowing what to do in the in between, the meanwhile, the watchful hours.
This story feels so appropriate for right now, as winter approaches and the darkness extends, as we approach Advent — the season of waiting and watching.
I love this book of Frederick Buechner’s beautiful sermons, and I wanted to share some of his words on waiting:
I think we are waiting. That is what is at the heart of it. Even when we don’t know that we are waiting, I think we are waiting. Even when we can’t find words for what we are waiting for, I think we are waiting. An ancient Advent prayer supplies us with the words. “Give us grace,” it says, ” that we may cast off the works of darkness and put upon us the armor of light.”
We who live much of the time in the darkness are waiting not just at Advent, but at all times for the advent of light, of that ultimate light that is redemptive and terrifying at the same time. It is redemptive because it puts an end to the darkness, and that is also why it is terrifying, because for so long, for all our lives, the darkness has been home, and because to leave home is always cause for terror. (Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, 281)
I also wanted to share some of my own words of reflection:
The days are darkening,
but we know that this is only an indication
that the Light is coming.
Everyone wants a sign —
when will the bridegroom arrive? —
but we must prepare with or without such signs.
We must wait.
We must keep our lamps burning steady,
our hearts burning ready.
The days are shortening,
but we know that this is only a cycle,
a time for the earth to rest and renew
before it begins again in spring.
No one wants to die —
to lay down their life for the cause —
but we must sacrifice these parts of ourselves
in order to be reborn.
This is the story of resurrection.
This is the story of redemption.
As the darkness gathers,
so may we,
knowing that our togetherness creates the energy
that will light the world.
And the deep silence of waiting creates the space
for the singing joy that comes with morning’s light.
Wait will you be waiting for this Advent? How does your life rhythm change as the days grow shorter and the darkness grows longer? What does the parable of the bridesmaids in Matthew 25 teach you about patience and preparation? What questions does it leave you with?