In explaining his international preaching enterprise, St. Paul takes one interesting fact for granted. In his famous sentence,
Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified,
St. Paul takes this for granted, namely that the preacher will always have an audience, no matter where he goes. The preacher will have an audience among all the different peoples of the world, because everyone everywhere wants to learn something; we want to hear the answer to some mysterious question or questions.
Now, we could spend all day discussing what it is exactly that this eager audience longs to hear. I hardly propose myself as competent to give an exhaustive answer. But let me suggest one thing. It is the mystery which lies, in my opinion, at the heart of today’s parable of the Ten Virgins.
What do we want to know, that a preacher can tell us? One thing, it seems to me is this: Where is time heading?
We observe that times moves forward. For instance, I observe that I am now 42 years old. It seems like the last time I checked, I was like 12. Time moves on; it waits for no man.
But, on the one hand, time appears to move in a circle, like NASCAR racers around a track. Noon recurs. Friday recurs. August 31 recurs. We have been here before.
But, actually, we haven’t. As of August 31, 2011, the Mexican Olympic soccer team had never won a gold medal. As of August 31, 2010, Steven Strasburg had never had Tommy-John surgery.
This is not just one big loop. We are headed somewhere. Where?
St. Paul, where are we headed? Church of Christ, where are we headed?
To Christ. The power of God and the wisdom of God. The firstborn of the many brethren who have fallen asleep. Who will come in glory to judge. Whose kingdom will have no end.