Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten vir- gins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.  And at midnight a cry was heard: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!”   Matthew 25:1-6 NKJV

The Advent question that comes to us is, “Will we be found sleeping when the watchman calls?  Do we have our lamps trimmed and ready to light the way to our Lord?  Will we have oil in our lamps?” To be sleeping means to be churchgo- ers without a sense of spiritual purpose and to doubt the Lord’s Words to us.  To have no oil means to have faith but lack charity or love to our neighbor. Will we be ready to meet the Lord when He comes, not just as a little Babe in a manger, but as our Lord and our God, our Savior and Redeemer?

On Sunday, December 11, during the morning worship the Sanctuary Choir will present Johann S. Bach’s Can- tata No. 140, titled Wake Up!  A Voice Is Calling Us. The work includes choruses, solos, and duets, and will be accompanied by violins, oboe, and organ. A libretto will be furnished so that everyone can follow the text of this beautiful work that illuminates the scriptures dealing with our own preparedness for the coming of the Bridegroom.

Often we consider the Lenten season as that time when we examine ourselves–our thinking and behav- iors–in preparation for the Easter Resurrection. But Advent is also a good time for self-examina- tion.  We often hear the scripture text from Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Let us take these words to heart and search our lives, our thoughts and intentions, and make a place for the Lord amid the bustle and busyness of the weeks approaching Christmas. Let us “trim our lamps” in readiness for the birth of our Lord, in our own lives, in our own hearts.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23, 24

Donald E. Dillard