Festival of Christ the Chief Elder
Welcoming God’s Kingdom
The bridegroom’s arrival presses us to understand the parables of the New Testament not as allegories but stories with a singular point. Allegories are narratives in which each actor or place represents some particular thing. A parable is a simile, simply saying, “This is like this.” We don’t need to answer many of the questions that may come up in our minds like “Why didn’t the bridesmaids share their oil?” or “Who is the bridegroom?” and “Where is the bride?” The parables are centered on the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God; they are about what the kingdom is like.
We can take them at face value, although that also requires us understanding the complex context in which Jesus shared these words. We don’t know much about first-century weddings or bridegrooms, but the story is plainly to urge us to be ready, to focus on the kingdom of God, and to remind us that the kingdom of God is at hand. Our job is to accept it, to receive it, not to be distracted, not to be put off by other concerns.
Kingdom is translated from a Greek word which could also be the reign of God or the reign of heaven. Matthew gives us a key to better understanding this concept in his version of the prayer Jesus taught us. Here the first petition, after praising God, is this: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). The two phases are repetitive, meaning the same thing. God’s kingdom comes on earth when God’s will is done on earth.
We have the opportunity, at any moment, to do God’s will and welcome God’s kingdom. Are we ready?
Peg Chemberlin, retired pastor