Order, Words, & Voices 03.19.23

Life Long, Matthew 25:1-13


Pre Worship Music

Opening Song                                  Billy            
Glory to His Name (hymn)
Hallelujah He Reigns

Call to Worship Response/Lord’s Prayer                Rick

Reading        Matthew 25:1-13                    Segun

Songs                                          Billy
            Shout to the Lord
Sometimes By Step (chorus only)

Message        Poor Etiquette & Bad Manners            Rick

Music         Sometimes by Step (Chorus Only)                            Billy

Community/Peace                                 Rick

Benediction                                    Rick

Post Worship Music

Music (slides)

Glory To His Name

Verse 1
Down at the cross where my Savior died
Down where for cleansing 
from sin I cried
There to my heart 
was the blood applied
Glory to His name

Glory to His name
Glory to His name
There to my heart 
was the blood applied
Glory to His name

Verse 2
I am so wondrously saved from sin
Jesus so sweetly abides within
There at the cross where He took me in
Glory to His name

Glory to His name
Glory to His name
There to my heart 
was the blood applied
Glory to His name

Verse 3
O precious fountain that saves from sin
I am so glad I have entered in
There Jesus saves me 
and keeps me clean
Glory to His name
Glory to His name
Glory to His name
There to my heart 
was the blood applied
Glory to His name

Verse 4
Come to this fountain so rich and sweet
Cast thy poor soul at the Savior’s feet
Plunge in today and be made complete
Glory to His name

Glory to His name
Glory to His name
There to my heart 
was the blood applied
Glory to His name

Hallelujah He Reigns
He reigns in majesty
He reigns in glory

He reigns in righteousness
Oh hallelujah hallelujah

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
He reigns in righteousness
Oh hallelujah

Call to Worship (Slides)
Leader: God, we come with hesitant steps to sweep out the corners where sin has accumulated
Response: We work to uncover the ways we have strayed from Your truth

Leader: We desire to expose the empty and barren places where we don’t allow you to enter
Response: Reveal our own struggles and indifference to the suffering of others

Leader: Nurture the faint stirrings of new life where Your spirit moves
Response: Let your Spirit transform us into the image of Your Son

Leader: For You alone can bring new life
Response: Only You, God, can make us whole

(Written by Christine Sine)

Lord’s Prayer (Slides) ‘Join me in the prayer of Jesus’
Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses, while we forgive those who trespass against us. 
And, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (Slides)   Matthew 25:1-13
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten maidens, who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent.  

When the foolish took their lamps, they did not take extra oil with them; but the prudent ones took oil in flasks with their lamps. 

While the groom was running late, all the maidens became drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there finally was a shout: ‘Behold, the groom! Come out to meet him.’ 

The  maidens got up and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish maidens said to the prudent ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ 

The prudent ones answered, ‘No, there most certainly would not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ 

While the foolish were on their way to buy the oil, the groom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.  

Later, the foolish maidens also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But the groom answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 

Be on the alert because you do not know the day nor the hour.“

Matthew 25:1-13

Music (Slides)

Shout To The Lord

My Jesus my Saviour
Lord there is none like You
All of my days I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love

My comfort my shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath all that I am
Never cease to worship You

Shout to the Lord
All the earth let us sing
Power and majesty
Praise to the King

Mountains bow down
And the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy
At the work of Your hands

Forever I’ll love You
Forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise
I have in You

Sometimes By Step (Chorus)

Oh God You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God You are my God
And I will ever praise You

And I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You’ll lead me
And I will follow You all of my day

Message – Life Long (Slides)

I hate to wait. I hate it at the Doctor’s office, at the grocery store, at the theater, in traffic, at food trucks… I hate waiting anywhere. I am always impressed by people that can do something productive while waiting, knitting or crocheting, business calls, and even those who, in stand-still traffic, can be seen shaving or apply mascara. I usually just spend waiting time looking for a loophole to avoid waiting. 

Author Khaled Hosseini writes, “Of all the hardships a person has to face, none is more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”
(Khaled Hosseini,  A Thousand Splendid Suns)

In our passage for today we are again waiting for a wedding  – that period when the bride is almost getting in the car to be transported to the wedding venue. Waiting.

The wedding tradition in today’s passage involves that moment between the Bride waiting at her home and the moment she and the groom enter the wedding hall.  The bride would wait, prepared and ready to go until the groom would arrive at her door to go together to the wedding. Her bridesmaids, also referred to as the virgins since they were typically unmarried, would wait with her. And, since weddings usually began after dark, the bridesmaids, once the groom arrived, would light their lamps and lead the wedding processional to the event. As they would make the journey, other invited guests would join the parade.

The waiting time for the Bridesmaids could have been a multi day.  Think of this as a calm bachelorette party that would sometimes go much too long. They all came to the place of waiting together with the proper clothes, snacks, and with their lamps or torches and the needed oil. At this wedding, however, not all the bridesmaids focused on their mission to light the way to the wedding.’ Instead, some of the bridesmaids may have stayed up too late talking with their lamps lit, so when the groom arrived, they had no oil left – therefore no light to shine.

(Start Screen Share – Leave up until after MLK Speech)

Important context truths…

  1. (Slide) Although Matthew is the first book in our New Testament, it was not the first New Testament gospel or epistle to be written. The people had already received the gospel of Mark as well as the letters from Paul. 
  2. (Slide) Matthew’s gospel was written decades after Jesus, when Roman oppression and brutality was increasing and the temple had probably been destroyed. Life was very difficult for the Jews and the Jewish Christians.
  3. (Slide) Followers of Jesus were hanging on by a thread to the promise that Jesus would return. Paul had previously corrected some believers in Thessalonica who had quit working while they waited for Jesus’ return – they had become a burden to the working believers.
  4. (Slide) This parable begins with a similar introduction as the other parables, “The kingdom of heaven will be comparable to…” These parables have an eschatological focus, details about Heaven and God. However, they also lead us to a way of living now, not a call to wait and live this way later.

With these contextual facts in mind, Jesus’ words serve as a reminder to the waiting followers of Jesus how to wait, and how to be ready for Jesus’ return.

(Slide) “The preparation that Jesus is speaking of does not mean unceasing, conscious, visible, or verbal, anticipation of Jesus’ return. We are not to be continually peering up into the heavens like an air-raid sentry. Nor are we to be forever meeting and singing or discussing the Lord’s return. 

(Slide) Such meetings can be helpful due to our human tendency to forget, but what Jesus is indicating is that waiting calls for a continuation of life. 

(Slide) Money must be earned, investments looked into, food must be cooked, babies washed, school lessons studied, weddings held and funerals attended-all the usual activities of life must go on.”
(Ray Stedman, The Wise and the Foolish)

(Slide) The earliest readers of this Gospel are in time of painful waiting for Christ’s return, which they assume will be their rescue out of their pain. However, Jesus’ call ”to live in vigilance means for the disciples to do the tasks that they have been appointed to do in preparation for the Master’s coming. 

(Slide) In Matthew’s Gospel, those tasks include bearing witness to God’s kingdom by welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and making disciples in all the world.”
(Carla Works, Professor of New Testament, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.)

(Slide) The apostle Paul states that in this time believers must, “Encourage one another and build one another up. Live in peace with one another. Admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek what is good for one another and for all people. 

(Slide) Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit, examine everything; hold firmly to that which is good, and abstain from evil.”
(I Thessalonians 5:9-22).

Jesus’ parable is a call to wait for Jesus’ while living like Jesus for as long as the wait takes.

(Slide) In 1872 a bookseller named Joseph Maria Bocabella visited the Vatican in Rome. While there, after seeing the churches and cathedrals in Italy, he returned home inspired to build Sagrada Familia, a church in his home town of Barcelona. In 1882, over one hundred and forty years ago, the first shovel pierced the earth as the church began to be built. It is a project that continues to the present. During that time they lost their initial architect, survived wars, ideologies, and most recently covid. Billy and Renee took us to see this massive building last summer, and while I do not understand many of the practices, traditions, customs, and disagree with much of the theology of the Catholic Church, I was impressed. Impressed by the structure and aesthetics of the church, but what really impressed me was the ‘stick with it’ attitude of those who had helped with the continual financial needs, those who had continued the work of the actual construction, and even the parishioners who held to a hope even though all those original participants were long gone and even many alive now recognize that they may not live to see the completion. They did not continue to support the project because they would sit in a seat inside the complete church, but still,  they continued. Even though they knew they would not be present for the completion, they hung in there because they held to the hope of completion. 

(Slide of MLK) A week after the brutality in Selma, Alabama took place –  just seven days after law enforcement used violence and brutality to stop the inspired civil rights marchers from walking to Montgomery, Alabama, Martin Luther King stood before a church filled with those still bearing the visible cuts and bruises, still visibly bearing the pain from the Sunday before. King told them that they would continue, continue to strive for justice, to continue to example love and peace, all the time recognizing that they themselves may not see the fulfillment of their hope here on earth,  but eventually their descendants would live in that peace. Ironically, like the church members in Barcelona, they too, are still in the process of this calling, a calling to persist. King preached to this audience

“They told us we wouldn’t get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, but all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, We ain’t goin’ let nobody turn us around… Today I want to tell the city of Selma, today I want to say to the state of Alabama, today I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around. We are on the move now…. 

Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. … The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us….The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us. The wanton release of these known murderers will not discourage us. We are on the move now. …Like an idea whose time has come, not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us.We are moving to the land of freedom…

I know you are asking today, ‘How long will it take?’ – ‘How long will prejudice blind the visions of men?’… I come to say to you, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth has crashed to the earth and will rise again.

How long? … Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword; His truth is marching on. Our God is marching on. Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on.”

(Stop Screen Share)

Yes, this parable is a story about the Bridesmaids, these women who were called to be a light in the darkness. To light the way to the wedding hall where all would participate in this celebration of union.  It is a story about the bridesmaids – but it is also a story about the groom.

Why was the groom running late? Customs dictated that the groom and his family were responsible for the wedding planning and provision. As with weddings in our time, things still need to be done right up until the parents of the bride and groom take their seats for the ceremony. Even at that moment there are still probably folks working on the feast, preparing the table. The goom may have been finalizing the dowry negotiations with his new inlaws, maybe there was a hiccup with the ceremony or the feast that only he could resolve, maybe there was a situation like last week’s parable where the groom and maybe his dad had to address a problem with the guests. It wasn’t for the bridesmaids to know, except that the groom was delayed by essential matters.

Jesus is not just talking about his return, Jesus is talking about the union of himself with the church. In Jesus’ parable the bride groom is Jesus, and the bride is us – us corporately, us the church, us the waiting believers. However, the bridesmaids are also us – us as individuals, the individuals called to be salt, called to be the light. Not called to hurriedly and aggressively pressure others to enter the wedding hall through our words and voices, instead, we are called to persistently and consistently live out the justice, kindness, and humility of Jesus. We are the waiting bridesmaids, waiting and lighting the way, not quitting, continually waiting for whatever is holding up the bridegroom while diligently remembering our calling, our purpose.

A calling to not quit, a calling to not give up, a calling to not forget, a calling to reflect Jesus to the world in the same way God revealed himself through Jesus. A lifelong 24/7 calling to all believers to live on earth like we will live in Heaven – to be the light through our actions, our lives.

A calling initially to the oppressed who were present when Jesus first spoke. A calling to those hearing Matthew’s words now living in the midst of brutal oppression. A calling to us, over two thousand years later, to us who live in a dangerous and comfortable peace and freedom, to still live like Jesus, even though we are holding to a promise that may not be seen in our lifetime. It is our purpose.

Music (Slides)

Sometimes By Step (Chorus)

Oh God You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God You are my God
And I will ever praise You
And I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You’ll lead me
And I will follow You all of my day

Community (Slides)

  • Next Sunday, Special Guest, Brian Foreman, CBF Coordinator of Congregational Ministries
  • Wednesdays Noon Bible Study, continues this Wednesday @ noon, This Wednesday, Matthew 23:1-36, 

Benediction (Blank Slide)
May we go with Jesus’ radical words ‘Happy are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are gentle, those who hunger and thirst, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who have been persecuted. May we go with the challenge to be salt and light, to be a light shining before others and in so doing, may we see with God’s eyes and glorify God in our lives.

Closing Peace
Leader: May the Peace of the Lord be with You
Response: And also with you

Published by rickanthony1993

Husband of Andrea, Father of five, pastor of Grace Fellowship Norman OK.

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