As we journey towards Christmas, I have continued to think about how this season beckons us to wake up spiritually. It make us aware of how we are, or are not, making Christ the center of our lives. I cannot help but thinking of the parable of the Ten Virgins:
Then 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, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, "Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!" Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." But the wise ones replied, "No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves." While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, "Lord, Lord, open the door for us!" But he said in reply, "Amen, I say to you, I do not know you." Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Even though it is a legitimate struggle for many of us to stay awake during class, work, or prayer, I don't think this is the type of "awake" He is talking about here. This parables depicts two modes of living. The first is of the wise virgins who are eager and ready for the coming of the Bridegroom. Their daily activities revolve around this relationship. Although I would like to think I am definitely among this group, I find it is easy to slip into the second. What is the fault of the foolish virgins? It doesn't say that they don't believe in the Bridegroom, but that they simply aren't ready. They have put off preparations and have become drowsy.
There is a renowned Theologian who talks about modern culture as being spiritually "disenchanted." The world around us is not concerned with keeping it's lamp trimmed or flask filled, and has become drowsy, if not asleep. We know all too well that spirituality is no where near the top of the list of priorities in our culture. Rather, our attention is constantly drawn to career goals, athletic accomplishments, and of course the daily battle between our closet and the mirror. The Culture hands you a list of priorities that is usually out of order if your goal is heaven. Each of us we have a daily battle to engage with the world while keeping our relationship with Christ central. Christ wants to be our compass and companion on the journey home.
We are created to remain rooted in Him, to be like trees planted by streams of living water. To flourish in this way, we need to consider what nurtures our spiritual lives. This is to remain vigilant and awake. This is the opportunity of this season. How do we welcome Christ more into our daily lives? How do I grow in my relationship with Him? In what ways do I need pruning in order to bear new fruit?
Here are some practices we can observe to enter more intentionally into this season:
Trying to observe some of these practices will more or less difficult depending on our personality and experience with prayer. If this is your first go at it, I would recommend starting by choosing one thing from each category. The main goal is to create space to receive His love.
May this be a rich season of grace for you!