Today’s Readings: AM Psalm 50; PM Psalm [59, 60] or 33; Zech. 4:1-14; Rev. 4:9-5:5; Matt. 25:1-13
A Reflection from Lindsay Ryland, Transition Ministry Officer
When I was in the fifth grade, I joined the choir at my church. I loved to sing in the choir and felt very grown up in my robe and beanie cap (you had to be in high school to wear the four cornered hat with the tassel). Yes, women were still wearing hats in church at that time! The parish member who directed us was a stickler for “expression” in our singing – and she based a lot of our phrasing on our paying close attention to punctuation.
When I was reading the lessons for today, and saw that the Gospel lesson was the parable of the “wise and foolish virgins,” the words of an Advent hymn immediately leapt to mind: an old favorite, “Rejoice, rejoice, believers…” (to the tune Greenland). The last line in the first verse goes, “Up, watch in expectation! At midnight comes the cry.”
In our choir, we were directed to put strong emphasis on the word “Up” and just a little less on the next three words. We younger members, still learning about modulation, would almost shout the word “Up.” Little did we know that it was time to wake up the slumbering virgins so they could light the way for the approaching bridegroom. The hymn doesn’t mention the five virgins who burned up their lamp oil before going to sleep, but it seems to be a tribute to those who brought along extra oil and were prepared to meet and accompany that bridegroom as he came to fetch his bride.
In Advent, we prepare – shopping, ordering via catalog or computer, cooking, cleaning, writing cards or family updates, making gifts, writing those last minute checks to charity – and, like the “foolish virgins,” may often put off or ignore preparing our hearts and souls for the arrival of that special baby on December 25. Stock up on oil – oil for your heart and soul, by taking time to “watch in expectation,” filling our lamps/ourselves daily with spiritual oil so that we may greet him with “Alleulias clear.”