Come from Away is a popular Broadway musical based on what took place in the town of Gander, Canada following the September 11 terror attacks. In the confusion and aftermath of the attacks the US authorities decided to ground all flights within and into the US.
38 commercial flights with almost 7,000 passengers on board were directed to land in the small town of Gander which is in the Newfoundland territory. Initially the passengers and crew were all required to stay on the planes but as the ordeal wore on the passengers were allowed off the plane.
The musical tells how the townspeople of Gander welcomed these complete strangers into their town. On one hand it seemed like they didn’t have time to prepare for such an influx of strangers but on the other hand their whole lives had been preparing them for this event.
The musical based on the five days that the passengers spent in Gander is a reminder of the capacity for human kindness even in the darkest of times and the triumph of humanity over hate. The bonds that were formed over those five days were so strong that the passengers held a reunion back in Gander 10 years later.
This remarkable story reminds me of the next door in our series Doors of the Bible, the Virgin Door. Our text is from Matthew 25:1-12
[Jesus said] “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.  For 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, they all became drowsy and slept.  But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’  And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.  Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’  But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
The whole point of this parable is to be ready or you may end up on the wrong side of the door to eternity. The people in the town of Gander, Canada were ready when almost 7,000 people descended on them.
In the days of the Bible weddings followed a different customs than they do today. Three words sum up the typical wedding: contract consummation, celebration.
The parents of the bride would draw up a contract with the groom. The contract would stipulate what all had to happen before the groom could claim his bride. Once the contract was established the couple was considered married but they did not live together yet.
This is the time of waiting that Jesus describes in the parable. It could be a long time so if you did not come prepared, as the five foolish virgins were not, you could lose out.
When the groom was ready to claim his bride, he would come to the bride’s house and the wedding would be physically consummated. Then the celebration would begin.
The bride would have no idea when the groom would arrive so the bride and her attendants had to be ready at all times.
This all corresponds to Jesus and his bride the church. He came to this earth and purchased us as his bride by dying for us on the cross and rising from the dead. Then, like a good Biblical bridegroom, he left. He ascended into heaven with the promise that he would return to consummate our marriage; he would take us to our heavenly home where we would celebrate for all eternity.
The only thing we need do is stay ready. Staying ready is best done as a community, like the people of Gander, Canada. The practice of being caring and welcoming was so ingrained in the people of the town that when the disaster struck they were ready to respond in very profound way.
For us as Christians the best way to stay ready is to live our faith every day as part of a Christian community until it is ingrained in us. Then we will be ready when the Lord returns.