Friday, 27 January 2012

Go and buy oil

I love weddings. They are for me life's best moments. Everyone is happy, not just the husband and wife but all the guests too. Everyone is excited and ready for a celebration. If you're lucky you'll have been invited to the meal afterwards, and if that goes anything like the weddings I've been to, a party will  break out, usually around the time of the last course.
   But what would happen if you get invited to the wedding and you didn't make it. You know the bridegroom will be arriving soon, but you get distracted by other things and you don't get ready, and before you know it he's arrived and the wedding has started and the doors have been shut.
   This is a story Jesus told, in which ten virgins, five of them wise and five foolish, were waiting for the bridegroom and the wedding. The five wise virgins had prepared and brought extra oil for their lamps but the foolish had not. So when, at midnight, the bridegroom returns for the wedding the five foolish virgins have no oil for their lamps and the five wise virgins do not have enough to share. Then the five wise virgins go into the wedding and the celebration while the foolish ones go off to buy oil, but when they return the door has been shut and they cannot get in.
   This is a description of what Heaven will be like - the biggest and happiest party ever! The bridegroom has come briefly and soon he will return for the wedding. Are you ready? Is everything prepared? Do you know God?
   The bridegroom is Jesus and at the end of the parable he says to the five foolish virgins at the door "I do not know you." They asked for oil from the other five but there was not enough to go around. When Jesus comes one person's faith will not cover two people.
   There is no use in being good on the outside if you have nothing to sustain you on the inside. It is right to be good but it is not enough. You need the oil to keep you light burning when the bridegroom comes again. He is coming soon. Go and buy oil.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Long Walk Home

On Tuesday of this week I got my first new phone in five years! Now I like change but as the saying goes 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' and I'm not one to change just for the sake of it, so this was quite a big thing for me. The problem with having or doing something for a long time is that it can become comfortable, and that's another reason I don't change much, it's too easy to leave things as they are. So here is my first example of going from the safety of the Inside to the unknown Outside. Okay this may be a weak example, and I'm sure for most people the idea of getting a new phone is not that big a deal, but it will do.
     So, Tuesday evening, while on the bus home, I'm busy playing around on the new phone and I forget to replace my wallet back into my coat pocket. Of course I didn't realise at the time and so at my stop I'm simply got off and walked home. Not until the next morning as I was about to go out the door did I discover I'd lost it.

     I live in Bath at the moment; a lovely city, relatively small and pleasant. However, besides its many attractions it is also well known for its hills, and I currently live at the very top of one of them. So my first thought after realising my wallet was not in my pocket, and therefore neither was my bus pass, was 'I have got a long walk to the bus station (at the bottom of the hill), some two miles away, to see if it's been handed in'. The second thought I had was, 'I need to cancel my bank card', which I did.
     At the bus station I was relieved to find that my wallet had been handed in, although sadly without my bus pass, about £20 and, for some reason, two glasses wipes. The latter two I didn't mind so much but the bus pass bothered me, partly because it was worth over £70 and partly because as a student pass it will have been worthless to whoever took it (unless they've also aquired a student card).
     Anyway, the upshot of that was I had no bus pass and no money to buy a new one, so I have walked the hill from and to home at least once a day since wednesday and will continue to do so for a few more days yet. Fortunately I enjoy walking and it has lead me to think rather a lot about my final point - the planned new railway, HS2.
     This was a hot topic last week when approval was granted despite protests about the cost and damaging effect on the countryside. For me one of the biggest issues was that the first section wasn't going to be ready until 2026, which seems ridiculous. However besides all that I'm still at a loss as to why it's so important. We have trains that run from Birmingham to London and in a relatively quick time. Why is it that people need to get there in fifty minutes? And if there is a big need why is the railway not being built quicker? Whatever the answers I'm still not sure it's necessary. We live such frantic lives already and miss so much that goes on that I think we should just appreciate what we've got and live with it. And that's a case for leaving the craziness of Outside and stepping In.

Bath at twilight - 20/1/2012