Oil Consumed

[The people said,] “Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.” But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD, for he is a holy God.” (Joshua 24:18-19)

[Jesus said,] “The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'” (Matthew 25:8)

My faithfulness is… erratic. Let’s get that right.
Strong in speech – sometimes.
Strong in action – well, it’s happened.
Strong in sustained endeavor… Um.

I’m cautious enough to carry extra oil
(batteries, cords, replacement lamps).
I’m aware enough to know the things
of human effort… tend to break.

I’m honest enough to look upon
my own faith practice with not
too much self-flagellation, not
too much contented self-approval.

I’m honest enough to see that as
I answer Joshua’s ageless question,
“Which God will you serve?” I am
likely to respond: “At this moment, me.”

In the next moment, though, I’ll say
with tears, “You have the words of life.
Who else should I follow? Who
to serve?” And then I’ll trim my lamp.


In these days, I find, the lamp
is weighing less and less, the oil
level settling. The lamp still burns,
but for how long, O God? How long?

And where am I to find a store
of oil to replenish what I’ve saved,
and used, and burned? For light
is fleeting, and the night is long.

A poem/prayer based on Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 and Matthew 25:1-13, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading and Gospel Reading for Year A, Proper 27 (32).

Photo by Eric Anderson.

2 thoughts on “Oil Consumed

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