Sermon for Sunday, May 18, 2014

Matthew 25:1-12

“Ready For Home”

Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Cleveland, Ohio ~

Rev. Allen V. Harris, Pastor & Preacher ~ E-Mail:

Twitter: @FranklinCircle ~ Pastor’s Blog:

To see a video of this sermon, please go online to:



The motto of the Boy Scouts is pretty famous. Anyone know what it is? Yes, it is “Be Prepared.” What does it mean to “be prepared?” Well I have a story that gives you an idea.


There was a farmer who was in need of a new hired hand to help him with the farm work. When he was interviewing one young man, who wasn’t very talkative, the young man kept saying that he could “sleep when it storms.” Well, the farmer wasn’t really interested in the young man’s sleeping habits, but he seemed to be pretty smart about all the rest of farm life, so he hired him.


Things were going quite well for several months and the farmer was very pleased with his new hire. Then one night the farmer awoke to a terrible storm! Fierce winds were blowing, rain was pouring down as if in buckets, lightening struck again and again. He ran downstairs to the hired hand’s room and tried to wake him so that they could go take care of the farm animals and equipment. No matter how loud he shouted or hard he shook the young man, he would not wake up. Furious, the farmer threw on his coat and ran out into the storm.


He found all the barn doors tightly shut and secure. He found all the animals carefully tied up and safe and dry. All the equipment was covered securely and not a single corner of the tarp was flapping. Everything was in order. It was only then that the farmer remembered the young man’s promise during his interview: “I can sleep when it storms.” Of course he could sleep, because he knew how to be prepared for a storm!!!!”


The story that Jesus tells about the bridesmaids and their lamps doesn’t have such a good ending – at least not for all of the bridesmaids. Some of them thought ahead and had enough oil and wick to last the night until the bridegroom came, but some of them did not. It is a stark reminder from Jesus that we need to be prepared.


On this day, when we are hoping for two very different things, we are reminded nonetheless that hope calls us to be prepared. It is National Missing Children’s Day, and as Gina DeJesus’ parents, Felix and Nancy, reminded us in this very sanctuary several years ago, hope demands that we always be prepared for that for which we desire. Nancy and Felix were prepared every day of their life to find Gina. We adults have a phrase for this: eternal vigilance. All of us must be eternally vigilant and put action behind our hope for all children who are missing to be found. If you haven’t looked at the pictures in the stairwell of all the children missing in Ohio, please do that today. You can speak to Michelle Brown if you want the website where she got these. We must make sure all of our children have proper identification on file and have adequate training so they know exactly what to do when a stranger approaches them. Hope demands that we be prepared.


But on this day we are also remembering our loved ones who have died, as it is Memorial Day. This, too, urges us to be prepared. Part of this is the ongoing spiritual challenge of making sure our hearts, minds, and souls are ready for the day of our death. Like the joke I told last week about mansions in heaven, God can only use the building materials we send on ahead to create our eternal abode.


What this means to me is that none of us have the luxury of putting off being the kind of person we believe God and Jesus and Scripture invite us, urge us to be. It’s not so much about living by rules and regulations, as it is about being a good person, following the way of Jesus, being our best selves as God created us to be. When asked what was the most important thing to do to be a faithful person, Jesus said simply to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and spirit, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Be prepared! When Jesus was describing heaven, he talked about how we treat the least of our neighbors in the here and now. “When you did this to the least of these,” Jesus said, “you did it to me.” Let us be prepared!


But as your pastor I would say there is one more thing we simply must do to prepare ourselves for our death, and that is to make our plans known to our family, our pastor, and our doctors. There is nothing morbid about talking about your plans for your death and your funeral with those you love. How many of you have a will? How many of you have a living will designating what medical measures you want done if you are extraordinarily ill or injured? How many of you have your obituary written out telling your life’s story accurately? How many of you have written down the songs you want sung at your funeral, your favorite poem or scripture, whether you want to be buried or cremated?


In fact, it may be the greatest gift you could possibly give your loved ones. I know it was for me when my mother died. I knew exactly what dress she wanted to be buried in, exactly which coffin she found beautiful, exactly where she wanted her final resting place to be. I will be eternally grateful that my mother was prepared for her death. We can be to. If you want help with this, please ask me. Please don’t take this wrong: Nothing would please me more than to say I helped my congregation prepare for death.


So, just like the Boy Scout who is always prepared to do his duty… Just like the farm hand who can sleep when it storms… Just like the wise bridesmaids who’s lamps were ready to receive the bridegroom’s invitation… May we, too, be ready. Ready to find and rejoice when lost boys and girls are found. Ready for the day of our own death.   Ready for home. Amen.