The Diocese of Ely Education Directorate

3rd Sunday before Advent Year A

Matthew chapter 25 verses 1-13 

Theme: The bridesmaids’ mistake

Preparation

Bring a torch, but remove and reserve its batteries.  Collect together several other items (or show photographs of them) which are not going to work because of a missing element – a wind up clock without a key, an electric device without a plug, a brooch with its pin missing etc.

Bring an artefact or photograph related to weddings.

Introduction

Introduce the subject of weddings (taking whichever angle seems most appropriate in your circumstances).  Discover how many of the children have ever been a bridesmaid / flower girl / page boy.  Tell them that you are going to share with them a story Jesus told about bridesmaids, but that at a certain point in the story you will need people to demonstrate the “wedding presents” – distribute your non-working “gifts” around the room.

The Message

Weddings in Jesus’ times were different from ours.  In our story the bride was waiting at home for the bridegroom to arrive for the party.  She sent her ten bridesmaids to wait for the bridegroom, so they took their oil lamps and went to wait outside (you may have to describe how an oil lamp works at this point).  There were no street lights to help the bridegroom find the house safely – so the bridesmaids had an important job to do.

Have you ever waited so long for something that you fell asleep because you were so tired?  Would you be able to sit and wait until midnight and still stay awake?  That’s what happened to these bridesmaids – they all nodded off!

Then suddenly they heard a shout – “the bridegroom is coming, take your lamps and go and meet him, show him the way to the bride’s house!”

Now the bridegroom is coming, it is time to get out the presents!  Ask your volunteers to demonstrate the gift they are holding – what is the problem?

You all had a problem because you were not ready – you hadn’t got everything you needed to make the gift work properly.  The bridesmaids had that problem too: their lamps had all gone out while they slept and they needed to fill them up with oil so that they could light them again.  Five of the bridesmaids were ready for this: they had brought extra oil with them – just like I have brought extra batteries with me to make the torch work.  (Hand over the batteries and invite your volunteer to get the torch working -possibly another adult will need to assist the child at this point while you are talking.)  But the other five bridesmaids hadn’t brought any spare oil, just like I haven’t brought the plug / key/ etc. for the rest of these gifts.  While they dashed off to get the oil they needed, the bridegroom arrived.  When they got back to the party everyone had gone inside and the front door was locked – after all that waiting they had missed the wedding party!

When Jesus told this story, he was talking about people waiting for him to arrive – he is like the bridegroom in the story.  Everyone in the story knew the bridegroom was coming – they were just not sure when he would arrive.  Christians are waiting for Jesus to come  again – they are sure he is coming, they are just not sure when he is going to arrive.  Jesus is saying “I am coming back, and it will be a big surprise.  Make sure you are ready for me!”

Very soon we will begin the time of year called Advent.  In Advent the Church gets ready to celebrate Jesus’ coming at the first Christmas.

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus,

We often forget you because we are too busy, or because we are thinking about other things.  As we get closer to Christmas, help us to remember that this time of year is all about you.  Thank you for coming into our world at the first Christmas, help us to be ready to celebrate with you.

Amen

With this being the week of Remembrance Sunday, and with the centenary of the Battle of Passcendaele (31st July – 10th November 1917) other acts of worship can concentrate on a different kind of remembering.