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Devotional: December 3, 2020

"God's kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps…”

Matthew 25: 1-4 The Message

Our church is dark right now, as we are in the middle of changing over our main electrical service. It is odd to go inside a building with almost no lights on at all, particularly after sunset. Yet for most of human history, that is the way most buildings were. Only since the late 1800’s have we been blessed with electricity.

After sunset in Jesus’ day, the only light from human habitation came from sources like campfires, or oil lamps. The oil lamps of biblical times were small, and formed of clay. Jeana and I brought back a couple of oil lamps from our trip to the Holy Land. Such lamps could provide hours of light if supplied with enough oil.

Jesus tells a parable in which he contrasts two groups: five silly or foolish virgins who wait for the bridegroom with no extra oil; and five wise virgins who bring plenty of oil. As the parable continues on, the presence or absence of oil makes all the difference.

Some have compared oil in a lamp to having joy in one’s life. There are some people who are irrepressibly joyful. It seems like even the worst news in the world doesn’t put out their spark. On the other hand, there are others who never seem joyful, even on their very best days.

Yet our Lord desires to anoint us with the “Oil of gladness”, or the “Oil of joy”, which is referenced in Psalm 45: 7.

Particularly as we continue through the Advent season, and look towards Christmas, it is good for us to remember how central joy is to our faith. “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy, for to you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2: 10

Are you filled with joy?

Do you have the joy of the Lord in our heart, to carry you through the dark, tough and difficult times?

Do you have enough joy to share your joy and happiness with others?

These are good questions for us to consider at this time of year. My prayer for you this season is that you will seek and find the joy of the Lord. May you find joy in even in the smallest of things, and then give Him the praise. You will find your heart filling up like the oil lamp. Then you, too, will shine God’s joy to others. May God give us all abundant joy this Advent and Christmas season!

Prayer

Today, Lord, I thank You for Your faithful light, which You lovingly shine upon me. May I reflect that light to others, so that they can find their way, especially in times of darkness and discouragement. Help me to remember to refill my lamp with the joy and love You offer abundantly.

Joyfully I pray these words in the name of Your son, who is the Light of the World. Amen


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