Advent: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids

Eleanor Zuercher's useful book, Not Sunday Not School! suggests using the parable of the ten bridesmaids (Matthew 25.1-13) during Advent, as a story about being prepared. This was the source of the idea of sticking felt or cardboard faces on the fingers of old gloves, to make five smiling (wise) girls and five sad (foolish) girls, which can be used as a visual aid while telling the story.

Hugh Martin's book, The Parables of the Gospels and their Meaning for Today, is an excellent source of short, accessible commentaries on many of Jesus' parables, including this one.


  1. Start by inviting the children to the front and asking them questions about Advent. Do they know what it means ("arrival" or "coming" - when we await Jesus' arrival at Christmas)? How do they prepare for Christmas in their homes? Do they know of any other Advent customs (such as calendars, candles and so on)? Explain that they are going to hear a story that Jesus told, about being prepared.
  2. The parable is read by three older children (or adults), with two younger children each wearing one of the gloves and wriggling its fingers as prompted during the reading.
  3. There is a discussion of the parable's meaning, in relation to Advent. This could come after the reading or, if you split the story into three parts, as in the simple script that is provided below, then you can have short discussions between the scenes.




Teaching Notes

Script: The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, for three readers

Scene 1

1. In those days the kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible.

2. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.

3. But the sensible ones brought their lamps and oil in their flasks as well.

Scene 2

1. Then, as the bridegroom was a very long time, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But in the middle of the night there came a shout, "Wake up, here comes the bridegroom! Out you go to meet him!" Then up got all the bridesmaids and attended to their lamps.

2. The foolish ones said to the sensible ones, "Please give us some of your oil - our lamps are going out!"

3. "Oh, no," replied the sensible ones, "there might not be enough for all of us. Better go to the oil-shop and buy some for yourselves."

Scene 3

1. But while they had gone off to buy the oil the bridegroom arrived, and those bridesmaids who were ready went in with him for the festivities and the door was shut behind them.

2. Later on the rest of the bridesmaids came and said, "Oh, please, sir, open the door for us!"

3. But he replied, "I tell you I don't know you!" So be on the alert - for you do not know the day or the time.

[This script is taken from J. B. Phillips's "The New Testament in Modern English", Revised Edition, 1958, 1960, 1972]

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