How do we be non-anxious?
The Reverend Michele Morgan
Sunday, November 8, 2020
Pentecost 27 A
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.” Matthew 25:1-13
Jesus and parables. Breaking open the way we are so human. One reading of this parable is that it is a lost page from the movie Mean Girls. I mean sweetie could you not share your lamps? Are we to hold up the ones who had the extra oil? Are they the shero’s of this story? Do we have to have winners and losers in our narratives to make the story interesting? I mean we have spent the last 5 or 6 days talking about the winners and the losers. But that is not what this story is about.
Here is the thing, they all were not winners or losers what they were and what the lesson we can take from this is that they were all victims of anxiety. They felt they had to show up and that they had to show up perfectly. They had a journey to make and they made it.
I mean I get it, I hate packing, I had choosing, will I be cold, do I need to bring another sweater? Do I need my tennis shoes, or will my comfortable, yet heavy hiking shoes be okay? Do I have all my electronics chargers? I mean I have yet to be on a business trip in the last five years when there is not an announcement of does anyone have an iPhone charger that they can lend for a couple of hours. We always have the foolish among us and sometimes it is I. So I feel no need not to share when it is someone else.
So here we are with these ten women, and we know that they are at their destination. They are not at some way station waiting to make the rest of the trip, they are there and comfortable so much so they all fell asleep. I always wonder who yells the bridegroom is coming. Was it one of the ones who are later shut out? It is the anxiety of the ones without oil that we hear about. It is not that they need to travel they are already there, so they are asking to share. Which is what makes it so confusing.
We have an intimate look at anxiety right now, we all have learned about it, lived into it in ways that none of us had thought possible before Covid-19. In March I was going about my life, by the end of March I was wiping down anything that came into my house and worried that I could not make Zoom work. I was worried about everything.
I still have anxiety about a lot of things, most people,……. mostly you all who I have not seen. I feel that I have a little more capacity to deal with the world as it is rather than the wild images in my own head. We have seen almost 50 million cases worldwide and the daily infection rate is again out of control. So we still have much to be cautious about. Yet, caution is different than anxiety. Caution can keep us safe, anxiety puts us in danger and more importantly, it can be spread.
For instance, we have been extremely cautious about money here at St. Marks. We are
Behind in income from building use, and we are ahead in money coming in from you all and ahead in NOT spending money.
We will continue to be cautious but not so much that we are not able to continue to reach out to the community of St. Marks and out into the world.
For these women with their lamps, it is not just the ones who are out of oil who are anxious.
- The women who had oil had to do it perfectly.
- “You had better go get you some oil.”
- It was their displaced anxiety the extra oil ladies that spread to the others. They were foolish because they believed them. Yet the other ‘oil with’ women is foolish because they did not manage their own anxiety, and it spread to the other woman.
- This is a gospel for us to manage our anxiety to breathe, to meditate. To pray to turn things over to god or a trusted friend.
- To be able to show up and stay non-anxious and help others.
- If that is possible.
When anxiety rules we all lose. So much of the days ahead are unknown, We are divided as a country. SO if we are able to be non-anxious, find a practice. Help each other. We do not need to win just to win we need to see and be together to knit us together. That is the point of this weird story from so long ago.