BACKGROUND NOTES (& OTHER NEAT INFO)
CONTEXT FOR THIS LITTLE STORY
Jesus tells this parable in a section immediately following his entry to Jerusalem and preceding the Last Supper and lead
up to the crucifixion.
WHAT'S A PARABLE?
A parable is a narrative of imagined events used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson (the Canadian Oxford Dictionary).
THE POINT OF THIS PARTICULAR PARABLE...
is explained in the footnotes here in the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV): "An apocalyptic [revelation of catastrophic destruction,
esp. at the end of the world or time] parable that exhorts the community not to lose hope or patience and to remain prepared."
The notes here also point out that lamps in this parable are the type "to be carried in the [wedding] procession."
TIP FOR TEACHING THIS PARABLE TO KIDS
Focus on the behaviour of the wise bridesmaids. Try to have the kids identify themselves with the ones who are more prepared
rather than less. Otherwise this story may be unduly punitive sounding to younger children.
LOTS OF GREAT IMAGES
Here's a foolish bridesmaid by 15th century engraver Martin Schongauer. And here's one of his wise virgins.
Then scroll thru these thumbnails for some wonderful renderings of the various wise and foolish virgins.
Here's a far too small one of the 'Foolish Virgins' from 1507 by Albrecht Durer.
Go to the zoom up option at left hand side, and just do your best!
Here's William Blake's take on the Foolish Virgins from 1822.
And here's a nice woodcut of Christ receiving the Wise Bridesmaids from 1712.
The closing verse of the first poem in TS Eliot's Four Quartets, the poem called Burnt Norton, captures in imagery and rhythm
some of the themes highlighted by this parable: readiness, urgency, and the coming of a new (better) order. See what you think!
The detail of the pattern is movement,
As in the figure of the ten stairs.
Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring
Except in the aspect of time
Caught in the form of limitation
Between un-being and being.
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always—
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.
(To see the full text of "Burnt Norton," click here.)
Questions for Discussion
1. Do you see yourself more as one of the wise bridesmaids/wedding guests or one of the foolish ones?
2. Do you think this parable is only about being prepared. What else might it be about? [looking for leading a life/behaviour
you can be proud of in the longterm.]
3. How do you think the guest who had enough oil felt when the guest of honour arrived and the party could begin?
4. Which type of guest, wise or foolish, would you prefer to be?
5. Have you ever been in a situation where you weren't as prepared as you know you could have been. [test, exam, meeting with
6. How did that incident make you feel?
7. Did you change anything about yourself after that incident?
8. Is it easy or hard to change personal behaviour or habits?
9. How do you think our desire to lead a Christian life fits into this story?
Please find below suggested workshops for this unit. For each one, when you are in real time with the children:
1. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity. Each week, see how much more detail each group of
kids can supply on the story they've been studying.
2. Link or explain your activity to the current story.
Arts -- Be Prepared centrepiece
Why: To reinforce the preparedness meaning of this parable.
Materials: Tea candles, paper plates, glue gun or strong white glue, big batch of home made salt clay, construction paper,
various colours, scissors.
How to do it.
The basic idea here is to build a centrepiece around a tea light mounted on a block of salt clay, all on a paper plate.
After you get the candle pressed into the clay block or ball, fill in the exposed parts on the base of hte plate with candle
and flame images cut out of construction paper. Set the flames on top of paper flower or daisy constructions (it is for a
wedding, after all!) Make sure you keep the paper on the lower level from the candle on the block.
Make a small text block that says, 'Be Prepared,' and incorporate it into the centrepiece.
Kitchen -- Dump cake.
Why: That 'be prepared' message again. Make something tasty and hospitable from staple items stored in a pantry.
Ingredients: 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix, 1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix, 4 eggs, beaten,
2/3 cup vegetable oil, 2/3 cup white sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream, 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a Bundt pan.
2. In a bowl, mix the yellow cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, and water. Gently fold in the sour cream
and chocolate chips. Pour batter into the prepared Bundt pan.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.
(You could consider the Galloping Gourmet routine here -- let the kids have the fun of dumping the ingredients, but have another
precooked cake ready to frost, or whatever, after they are done.
Games -- Modified bridal shower games.
Why. There's a lot of preparation to a wedding. Showers are one way to help the bride get ready to start her new household.
The kids might appreciate these games more than some adults do! Here are some suggestions.
Classic Clothespin game.
Give a peg to each child as they enter the room. Tell all that the idea is to catch out any one who says the magic words,
'Be prepared.' Winner is whoever collects the most pegs by end of class.
What's in the house?
Make a list of all the things a new bride should have in her house. Award points to each item based on order of importance.
Person with list worth most points wins.
Hand out blank index type cards that have 25 squares (big enough to write words in), 5 rows by 5 columns. Players fill in
blanks with gifts they think a bride and groom will need in order to be prepared. Have ready a fictional list of gifts for
the bride and groom in our story. Winner is first to form a bingo style line of 5 squares on their card.
Get a tray, and place a variety of kitchen utensils on it. (In a real shower, these would be new and bride would take them
home at end of shower.) Pass the tray around slowly so that each child gets a chance to see and remember all items on tray.
Take tray out of room. Have kids list items. Whoever remembers most items wins.
Why: use sound effects and action to reinforce key plot points of this bible story.
How it works.
Divide class into 4 groups or parts.
Brainstorm 4 different parts to produce together like a round.
Have groups practice separately. Then try each other's parts. Then come in in sequence like a round.
Take your Beat Box to another, perhaps younger class. Or share during worship at children's story time.
Suggestions for 4 parts.
1. Polish, polish, polish, polish (mime polishing the outside of a lamp)
2. Trim, trim, trim, trim (large scissor motion trimming the wick of your imaginary lamp held in other hand)
3. Extra oil, extra oil (hold up to display pretend pail of extra oil)
4. BE PREPARED! (Have the kids shout this somewhat loudly. Here they hold up pretend lit lamp to shine brightly.)
Dance/Music - Circle dance to 'Simple Gifts'
Why. More on preparation theme. As friends and guest, get ready for the new life together of the bride and groom by preparing
a celebratory dance for the wedding.
Getting started. Have the kids form a circle in pairs.
1. Link arms with partner and walk in circle forward thru first 2 lines of song.
2. Turn and walk in reverse direction thru next 2 lines.
3. Staying in current position, link arms with partner and swing partner in small circle, to end 2nd line of chorus.
4. Reverse direction, to end of song.
Here are the lyrics:
'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right.
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
to bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning, we come round right.
Click for a page with a free mp3 sample of this song
Computer - Wedding video
Why. A 'be prepared' take on the classic wedding video. Prepare a keepsake for the bride and groom. Collect clips from wedding
guests offering advice on what a couple needs to be prepared in their marriage.
Materials: video camera, computer with movie program such as iMovie.
Review, Activities from Bridesmaids 1
Arts/ fruits of the harvest luminaries
Kitchen/decorate wedding cake
Computer/wedding invitations or banner