Where’s the Bridegroom? Pentecost 22.

photo (1)I remember the wedding of a Liberian couple. The groom, because of work and the slowness of the jeweler, had left to the morning of the wedding the drive into NYC to get the ring and return. It was a hot Saturday; the bride arrived in a white limo and colorful traditional Liberian dress. But the groom was stuck in New York gridlock. The temperature in the 1856 Church rose to the eighties and nineties. Three hours later the groom arrived. The heat in the church was now about 100 degrees. Sweat poured, and the harried groom waited with me as the bride and her entourage walked in grace and regal stateliness down the aisle.

All was forgotten, at least until the bride and groom returned later that day to their room where I can imagine the words were either said or thought, “What were you thinking?”

And yet we all remained, waiting for the delayed bridegroom to show up.

That’s what we do; wait for the bridegroom to show up. We supply water and drink and a snack for the guests and the wedding party, place fans around the church for maximum effect, periodically checking with the bride about the whereabouts of the groom. Thank God for cell phones, and try to stay cool and present.

It worked that day. It doesn’t always. Sometimes we’re the wise virgins, other times we’re the foolish. If I can wait four hours on a hot summer day when temperatures approached the fires of hell, and it was not dry heat, won’t God who is much more forgiving than I, also keep the doors open to those who at least wait with or without oil. It seems to me the only ones who close the door to our virginal hearts, is us.

So dear ones breathe lightly into making quick distinctions between what is wise and what is foolish. Instead let the lamps of your love be filled to overflowing with the holy oil of God’s mercy and grace which never fails.

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