Who’s going to miss the party? A sermon on Matthew 25:1-13

We all have to live with the consequences of our decisions, which is why I didn’t go to a firework display this year, and why five virgins didn’t get to go the bridegrooms banquet in Matthew 25.

We are all waiting for God’s ultimate party, aren’t we? We’re all prepared for it with our party hats, our streamers and the champagne?

My sermon last Sunday focused on the need for us to be prepared for Jesus to come again in glory, for the Kingdom of God to be fully revealed to us.

After much prayer and thought, I did talk about the fact that Matthew’s Gospel seems to suggest that there will be a point of judgement, where God’s grace may no longer be his dominant characteristic.

Since the passage comes in the lectionary as part of our post-Trinity preparations for Advent, I also suggested that when we approach the manger this Christmas we should not do so alone. We should bring our friends with us.

We must not judge whether God will welcome either us or our friends into his Kingdom, but if none of us are waiting, and if we haven’t brought our friends, then none of us are prepared to welcome Jesus the bridegroom.

The full text of this sermon is here: Sermon Matt 25v1-13 (10 virgins) (and yes I really did take a bottle of champagne to church!)

Does God’s grace stop at the parousia? #lectionary

Cartoon by MUF

This is just a quick chuck out thought as I grapple with the Lectionary Gospel for this week – the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)

The question that’s bugging me is this: does God’s grace stop when Jesus returns in glory (what some posh folk call the parousia)?

Last week my friend was preaching on Jesus as the vine (John 15:1-17) and raised the tension in the Bible between the doctrine of God’s abundant grace and the idea that those who do not remain connected to Jesus the vine, will not only wither but be collected together and burnt. It’s almost like no second chance is offered – which is not what grace says. He didn’t find a resolution to the question.

We’re now turning from a sermon series through the “I am” sayings to the lectionary as we start to turn towards the Advent season. And here I am looking at the young ladies waiting for the bridegroom in Matthew 25, and struggling with the same sort of issue because of course those that were unprepared are left shut out by the bridegroom from the wedding feast.

Here’s what I think, please tell me if you disagree or can teach me more:

God’s grace and forgiveness are unlimited in the world as we now experience it – a place where God’s Kingdom is breaking through but not complete. We constantly have the opportunity to seek Jesus, to turn to God for forgiveness and to receive his love because of that beautiful word GRACE.

But, there will come the point where this will no longer be true, because when Jesus comes in glory to create a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1) those who have not prepared themselves by playing their part in the breaking through of that Kingdom, will find themselves shut out. They will no longer have a chance to change their minds, seek forgiveness, or go off an make suitable preparations by accepting Jesus as their Saviour.

So, does this line of thinking hold theological water?

[More of MUFs cartoon are here]