In Time
Matthew 25:1-13

No matter how often I read this parable I find myself focussing on the last verse, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour”.  It is a verse that I come back to over and over again in life.  We don’t have a clue as to when the Lord will return to take us to be with him, we don’t know if we will die before he returns or whether we will be wandering around going about life and suddenly the end of the world will come.  Either way the result is the same, but most of us would really like to know wouldn’t we?  Or would we?

I’d like to share with you a trailer for a movie that released here in Australia last week, it’s called In Time.  The basic scenario is that it’s sometime in the future, money is no longer currency, and time has taken over, more precisely the amount of time you have left in life.  Let’s take a look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdadZ_KrZVw

In this modern day parable we get to see a different slant on time and the use of it.  These people have a timer built in that tells them exactly the day and the hour that their time will run out, the exact opposite of the parable Jesus told his disciples.  Time has become currency; crime revolves around stealing or keeping units of time from others.  The selfish and greedy individuals are keeping it to themselves and the ‘poor’ run out of time at a maximum of twenty five years old, give or take what they are able to earn or trade.  It doesn’t look like a great existence does it.  But it makes you think, what would you do with your time if you knew?

There’s a great country song (yes I know many of you think that is an oxymoron) but it is called, “Live like you were dying”.  The notion is that we would live differently and do things we had always wanted to do as a matter of urgency if we knew our time was limited.  The movie “The Bucket List” follows the same principal, ultimately “In Time” does also (at least it appears so from the trailer).  What would you do with more time?  I sure wouldn’t waste it was the answer in the movie “In Time”.

What do we do with our time?  If we knew exactly how much was left do you think we would waste it, would we be watching movies like this one?  Would we be watching trashy reality television or doing some other form of mind-numbing activity or would we be out and about, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ?  Would we be welcoming strangers, visiting the sick and imprisoned and feeding the hungry as we will hear in our gospel reading in a couple of weeks or out making disciples of all nations teaching and baptising?

It’s hard to say isn’t it?  We know what we would like to say, and do, yet we find ourselves crashing out on the couch instead of building relationships, or burning the midnight oil doing busy work.

What about our ten virgins from Jesus’ parable, how did they use their time?  They were invited to a wedding, they came prepared, or at least it seemed that way, yet the bridegroom was delayed, it doesn’t matter how or why but he was delayed.  What then?  First of all they got tired and had a bit of a snooze, a Nanna nap, now I’m all for nanna naps, I think the next election could well be won or lost on the issue of siestas, but I digress, they ALL went to sleep all ten of them, no one standing watch, snooze time.

It was only when someone alerted them that the bridegroom was coming that things started to go pear shaped for five of the young ladies.  They realised that they didn’t have enough oil to last through the night, if their friends shared theirs they wouldn’t have enough either, so they have to run off to buy more.  Their timing was off, they could have spent a few minutes earlier in the day doing just that, but they chose to have a nap instead.  They didn’t use their time wisely.  The end result of course was that they missed out on the party, seven days of wedding celebrations missed because of a lack of preparation or preparedness.

Our bridegroom, Jesus ascended into heaven following his resurrection; we heard in our second reading that Paul was encouraging his fellow Christians with this information, and that he will come down from heaven to meet with us so that we will be with the Lord forever.  Paul wanted the Thessalonians to live in that hope and not grieve like those who have no hope.  The dead will rise first, those whose time has come in this earthly life will be the first to be raised from death and into new life in heaven.  Time will have no consequence or meaning; it will never be a currency to trade with, everyone will have an infinite amount.  These early Christians needed that reassurance from Paul, and you and I need that too.

Probably every one of us has experienced the death of a loved one at some stage, or we will in the future.  We live in hope and faith that we will all one day be reunited.  What a joy and comfort that is.   We don’t know the day or the hour that Jesus will return for us, or whether we will be among the first batch raised to life.  But I want to encourage you; live your life as a kingdom life, doing the things that God wants and calls you to do.  Be good stewards of your time and the things that God has given you.  Care for those God has placed in your life, love them, visit them, and forgive them.  Teach each other the lessons of the Bible, handed down to us from generation to generation.  Give praise and thanks to God for his blessings, take the time to worship him and give him thanks for the time that he has given you in the first place.  Don’t be distracted by the things of this world, focus on God and his Son Jesus Christ.

You will never have a clock built into your arm telling you the day or the hour or the second that your time will run out, because Jesus has said categorically we don’t know that and of course we shouldn’t.

Every one of you are invited to the wedding feast, come trim your lamps, use the time God has given you to worship and praise him and serve his people in their hour of need.

Amen.