Fleming Rutledge reflects on Christian life as a time of waiting, doubt, and preparation.
In the last week of his life, Jesus went to the temple every day to teach. He was engaged in a ﬁght to the death, literally, with the religious leaders. This whole section of the Gospel of Matthew is always read toward the end of the church year; it projects an atmosphere of impending crisis. The parable of the ten Virgins, or bridesmaids, is one of the very last that Jesus told. We are meant to see ourselves in this story. Ten young women with lamps and oil are waiting for a wedding procession. It is midnight, and the bridegroom has not come. The lamps are burning low. Maybe he is never coming. Maybe the whole thing was a mistake.
Midnight is the time of the church year that we are in. This is the time for asking if there is some mistake, for, as W. H. Auden wrote, “Unless you exclaim — ‘There must be some mistake’ — you must be mistaken.”
Fleming Rutledge, Advent – The Once & Future Coming Of Jesus Christ, Eerdmans, 2018, pg 91.