Well, we gather here each and every Sunday, to express our gratitude to God, and to hear the teachings of Jesus so that we may more fully follow in his steps and in his way of life. Regardless of any temporary situations we may be going through in our nation, or in our world, the teachings of Jesus remain constant and eternal. And that is why these teachings have endured. More than 2000 years later, they are still relevant in our lives today.
Now, this past election week has been a very challenging one for all of us, because we have gotten to see very clearly how our nation is so deeply divided. Well, interestingly enough, the teachings of Jesus from today's lectionary are also about division. The Gospel reading from today's lectionary is one of Jesus's parables, which is known as the parable of the 10 bridesmaids.
In this parable, Jesus tells us that five of the bridesmaids made a wise decision, and the other five made a foolish decision. The five who were wise were those who had oil in their lamps. Now to the ancient Jewish people, oil symbolized the light of God, the presence of the Divine. In Jesus's day, oil was not only used to light lamps so that people could see in the darkness, but it was also used to heal the sick, and to welcome strangers into your home by anointing them. And of course, for the ancient Jewish people like Jesus, oil was used to light the menorah in the temple.
A little over a month from today will be the first night of Hanukkah, where the Jewish people celebrate how just a small amount of oil was able to miraculously keep the temple lit for eight days. Oil in our Judeo-Christian tradition represents the light and presence of God. Those five wise bridesmaids carried that light and presence in their lamps in the temple of their innermost being. But the five foolish bridesmaids did not.
Jesus's whole point in this parable is that we are to be bearers of God's light and presence in the world. And Jesus uses a wedding here because a wedding symbolizes union, union with God and union with one another. So how do we become bearers of the light during this time of great division in our country? Well, Jesus gave us the instructions. He said that we are the light, and that we are to love our neighbor, to bless our enemy, to care for the poor, to heal the sick, to welcome the stranger, to fight for the powerless, and to lift up the lowly. When we do those things, we bring light and healing to the world.
In just a few weeks' time, the season of Advent will be upon us. Advent is a time for us to prepare for the birth of the light, which happens within us. Many of us though, are running on empty right now. Our inner oil tanks have become depleted during this election season and this time of pandemic. That's why it is so important for us right now, to keep adding oil to our lamps, through our love and service of one another. And through our daily prayer practices as well. Prayer, meditation, mindfulness techniques, and spiritual reading each day helped to keep our inner lamps filled, filled with the spirit and the light.
And so my friends, I hope you will find time each and every day this week to fill your lamps with oil so that you may continue our work -- bringing light and healing to our nation and our world.
Rev. Salvatore Sapienza
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