Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids

The Parable of the Ten Virgins by Ain Vares

Matthew 25:1-13 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! There will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

So come to him and be enlightened that you do not so much bear lamps as become them, shining within yourself and radiating light to your neighbors. May there be a lamp in your heart, in your hand and in your mouth: let the lamp in your heart shine for yourself, the lamp in your hand and mouth shine for your neighbors. The lamp in your heart is a reverence for God inspired by faith; the lamp in your hand is the example of a good life; and the lamp in your mouth are the words of consolation you speak.
-Guerric of Igny

Ten Maidens
Based on Matthew 25:1-13
Meter 88.88 LM with Refrain
Suggested Tune- HE LEADETH ME (United Methodist Hymnal #128)

Ten maidens step into the night,
the bridegroom still beyond their sight.
They watch and wait till caught by sleep,
for he’s delayed their time to meet.

Refrain: Good Bridegroom we await your day.
Help us to watch. Help us to pray.
We know not when the hour will be
to join you in your majesty

At midnight comes the rousing shout!
The Bridegroom comes without a doubt.
Five foolish ones have not prepared.
They seek more oil as he appears. (Refrain)

The Groom, Christ comes, His hour draws near,
the unprepared will gaze in fear,
to see the banquet door closed fast,
the time to enter long since past. (Refrain)

Refine my soul, renew my mind
Reveal each fault that you may find
Expose my heart, make my life true
So at that time, I’m known to you (Refrain)

© 1999, revised 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.
Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to original music.

Romans 13:11-12a (NRSV)
You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.

Waiting for God is an active, alert – yes, joyful – waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.- Henri Nouwen

Face to face with our limits,
Blinking before the frightful
Stare of our frailty,
Promise rises
Like a posse of clever maids
Who do not fear the dark
Because their readiness
Lights the search.
Their oil
Becomes the measure of their love,
Their ability to wait?
An indication of their
Capacity to trust and take a chance.
Without the caution or predictability
Of knowing day or hour,
They fall back on that only
Of which they can be sure:
Love precedes them;
Before it
No door will ever close.
-T.J. O’Gorman, An Advent Sourcebook

Revelation 22:17 (NRSV)
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

BEHOLD, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out
With lighted lamps and garlands round about
To meet Him in a rapture with a shout.
It may be at the midnight, black as pitch,
Earth shall cast up her poor, cast up her rich.
It may be at the crowing of the cock
Earth shall upheave her depth, uproot her rock.
For lo, the Bridegroom fetcheth home the Bride:
His Hands are Hands she knows, she knows His Side.
Like pure Rebekah at the appointed place,
Veiled, she unveils her face to meet His Face.
Like great Queen Esther in her triumphing,
She triumphs in the Presence of her King.
His Eyes are as a Dove’s, and she’s Dove-eyed;
He knows His lovely mirror, sister, Bride.
He speaks with Dove-voice of exceeding love,
And she with love-voice of an answering Dove.
Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go we out
With lamps ablaze and garlands round about
To meet Him in a rapture with a shout.
-Christina Rossetti

For more quotes on active waiting, click here

For a completely different interpretation of the parable, check out a post by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled Being There.

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please leave a comment below

4 thoughts on “Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids

  1. Lisa: how gracious of you to share your own story in communicating this message! Your grandfather certainly experienced many transitions during his life, considerable suffering yet the joy of being a parent and grandparent.
    Love, peace, joy and hope,

  2. Pingback: Christmas 11b: Active Waiting | Turning the Word

  3. Dear Lisa, May we use the beautiful image of the Ten Bridesmaids as our bulletin cover this coming Sunday? Rev. Yvette Marie Eber, Linn Presbyterian Church, Lake Geneva, Wi

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