I once had a plan for a sermon but Murphy and his silly laws got in the way. The sermon was from Matthew 25 about the story of ten bride’s maids and their oil lamps. You need to know that the last time I was in Jerusalem I purchased several clay oil lamps of the kind used in the days of Jesus. My thought was to use one of them to demonstrate how these lamps provided light and how oil was added and have the lamp burning on the communion table during the sermon.
On Friday I took my oil lamp to church and practiced with several wicks to get it just right. The fourth time it worked like a charm. The lamp worked just the way I wanted it to and it was easy to put out. Then I thought I would introduce it during the children’s moment and leave it lit on the table. It seemed like such a good plan to help every one focus on the sermon and remember it well.
On that Sunday I had everything set up and the children came forward and it was all working just like I thought up until I added a bit of oil to the lamp and some of it got on the top of the lamp. We sang “give me oil for my lamp keep me burning.” It wasn’t much just a bit and I lit the wick. It looked OK and was for a moment. I set the lamp on the table and got ready for communion. During communion I looked at the lamp and noticed that not only was the wick burning but so was the whole lamp.
One of the elders tried to put it out with the candle snuffer but that was too small and then the lamp fell off the table onto the floor… Well we got the fire out with no real damage but it will be a sermon that no one who was present will ever forget. We can make great plans and even work hard to make them work but we need to be ready for the unexpected. Being ready for the unexpected was even covered in the sermon.