Oil

 In Pastor's Blog

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.  The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.” -Matthew 25:1-5

We are out of oil!  How on earth did this happen?  I shop at Costco occasionally, not recently, mind you, the lines are far too long and chaotic!  I normally buy huge jugs of vegetable oil for our household, so I don’t think about oil very often.  Recently, as I was baking a cake for a special event, I realized that we were completely out of oil! I poured the last little bit of olive oil out of a decorative jar I keep on the counter, and it was just enough for the recipe.  On my next trip to the grocery store, I bought some oil.

The experience of running out of oil reminded me of this parable of Jesus from Matthew 25.  The foolish ones who didn’t bring extra oil asked the others to share, but they couldn’t share because then they, too, would run out.  So the ones without oil went to find more but when the bridegroom arrived those who were prepared entered the wedding feast. The parable continues, “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” -Matt. 25:11-13

This is a tricky parable to grasp.  At one level, it seems like Jesus is saying, “don’t share with others who have need.”  But clearly, that is contrary to his teaching, since later in the same chapter of Matthew, he tells the people, “Whatever you did for the least of these servants of mine, you did to me.”  -Matt. 25:40 The intent of the parable lands in the punchline, “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Jesus is telling the people to stay vigilant and be prepared.  If they just keep living life the way they always had, only looking out for today, they were in danger of missing God’s coming!

In this time of chaos and anxiety within our nation and across the world regarding coronavirus, how are we called to be the church?  In what way is God asking us to be prepared and keep watch? It may seem alarmist to close down the schools and restaurants and cancel in-person worship services, but I truly believe it is our Christian duty to protect the vulnerable and care for the “least of these” among us.  Even if I, personally, am not at risk, putting someone else in danger is contrary to my faithful discipleship to Jesus. We must keep watch, because we do not know where or when the danger may be lurking. Therefore, we have suspended in-person worship and rely on our online streaming of worship.

It is really challenging to try and connect with the congregation when we are unable to meet together in person for worship.  Thankfully, we are prepared and have had the ability to connect online for a long time now. You can connect with our Facebook group, our church website, or our new APP found on the Apple or Android Store on your smartphone, tablet or computer.  We will also send out a special worship newsletter on Mondays during the quarantine to help you worship from home on any day at any time which works for you. Thank you for faithfully supporting the ministries of the church which are continuing through online connections, mail and phone calls.  You can give your tithes and offerings online on the church APP or church website, or you can mail in your tithes and offerings to the church office: First Presbyterian Church, 2001 W. Kennewick Ave., Kennewick, WA 99337

As today is St. Patrick’s Day, I share with you a prayer which
gives me comfort and hope, attributed to St. Patrick
from the Glory to God Hymnal:

I bind unto myself today

the strong name of the Trinity

by invocation of the same,

the Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,

by power of faith, Christ’s incarnation,

his baptism in the Jordan river,

his death on cross for my salvation,

his bursting from the spiced tomb,

his riding up the heavenly way,

his coming at the day of doom,

I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today

the virtues of the starlit heaven,

the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,

the whiteness of the moon at even,

the flashing of the lightning free,

the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,

the stable earth, the deep salt sea

around the old eternal rocks.

 

I bind unto myself today

the power of God to hold and lead,

God’s eye to watch, God’s might to stay,

God’s ear to hearken to my need,

the wisdom of my God to teach,

God’s hand to guide, God’s shield to ward,

the word of God to give me speech,

God’s heavenly host to be my guard.

 

Christ be with me, Christ within me, 

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

 

I bind unto myself the name,

the strong name of the Trinity

by invocation of the same,

the Three in One and One in Three,

of whom all nature has creation,

eternal Father, Spirit, Word.

Praise to the Lord of my salvation;

salvation is of Christ the Lord!

  

Warmly in Christ,
Hanna P. Shearer

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ALL CHURCH ACTIVITIES HAVE BEEN CANCELED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Church services will be online only. Click here forLIVE STREAM