Every time the power goes out in my neighborhood, I make a mental note to go out and purchase what I need to be prepared for an emergency.As I scramble around in the dark trying to figure out what to do — without any way to see or to access information about the situation --- I realize how helpless I would be if the situation lasted more than a couple of hours. I don’t have any water, food, radios, flashlights, batteries or anything else stored so that my family can endure something like an extended loss of utilities.I am not prepared, not because I don’t believe a major earthquake will come. We live in California, after all, where we know that this happens and that the effects can be devastating. I believe it will come; I just don’t think it will happen right now.The same can be said of my preparedness for God. I believe that Jesus will return … someday. It just doesn’t seem likely that it will be today or tomorrow.In today’s Gospel (the parable of the 10 virgins), Jesus tells his followers that God’s kingdom is like wedding feast. Some people are prepared to attend and enjoy the festivities, and some are not — and those who are not will miss the party. “Therefore stay awake,” Jesus says, “for you know neither the day nor the hour." We have been invited to share in the holy, blissful, eternal love of God. We don’t need to wait for the main event sometime in the future.
As far as I know, I’ve probably missed the arrival of Jesus into the world and into my life many times. I’m not always looking for him, so maybe he’s been here in ways I couldn’t see. Of course, that’s different than the final, or climactic “second coming” of Jesus as imagined by the apocalyptic literature of the Scriptures. But still, it can be difficult to remain vigilant and prepared for something when it doesn’t happen for a while — a day, a month, a decade or a millennium.
Yet we are called to stay awake — not just to avoid disaster but to enjoy the lavish presence of God. We’ve been invited to an unimaginable party, better than anything Vanity Fair might throw after the Academy Awards.
I remember when I applied to colleges. I checked the mailbox every day for a month or so when it was around the time that acceptance (or rejection) letters were sent. I was excited. I was a little frightened. Mostly I was excited because I was pretty sure some school was going to invite me to a life-changing experience. There was no way I could keep that thought out of my mind.
I think that’s how we’re supposed to be about the presence of God in our lives, daily and in some kind of ultimate sense.
We have been invited to share in the holy, blissful, eternal love of God. We don’t need to wait for the main event sometime in the future. The party can start now. The more prepared we are for the grand finale, the more we will be able to enjoy and experience the love of God today.
Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at [email protected].