It’s been kind of amazing—I have not had one wedding scheduled for this year! Usually I have four or five, but in this time of Covid I haven’t had to deal with arrangements for weddings. I can’t imagine going through all the planning, arranging, buying decorations, putting down deposits, and have that all come to a halt during the shutdown. It must have been awful for people, and an emotional nightmare.
Weddings, along with funerals, and other celebrations have been put on hold, cancelled, or cut way down to just immediate family. These events have been labelled as ‘super-spreader’ events and people are wisely staying away from them. Julie and I were invited to a friends’ wedding way back before the lockdown and about a month beforehand they sent everyone a note explaining the situation and how they just didn’t feel comfortable with everyone coming. It was pared down to just family members. We actually felt better about that because of the pandemic.
So, I understand when those of you out there in ‘internet land’ are staying home. We all have to do what we are comfortable doing. However, there is an ordination scheduled for God’s Acres at 3pm today for Chantell Lankford. We will be following our protocol and know that you are invited to attend.
The parable Jesus told today puts an interesting light on these celebrations. Matthew was initially writing to an audience that was Jewish. They were aware of the Jewish customs and ways of doing things. Matthew was also aware that Jesus had commissioned the disciples to, “Go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you.” So, Matthew wrote of God’s judgement a number of times in his Gospel. Today is one of those times.
Jesus told this parable that Matthew records, about those who were invited to the wedding feast but declined to attend. Actually, they blew it off! They made light of it, even becoming aggressive and attacking and killing some of the servants sent to encourage them to attend.
Obviously, they weren’t from Minnesota or the Midwest, because we would never refuse a free meal!
So, the king sent the servants out to bring in people from all over, both good and bad. And the wedding banquet was filled with guests.
This is where things get a bit disturbing for me. The king noticed one of the guests, who had been invited in from the byways, wasn’t wearing the special wedding robe. This could have been a fancy robe, or just one that was specially cleaned and reserved for special occasions, but each guest traditionally needed a robe. Did the guest refuse to wear one? Did he sneak in attempting to enjoy the feast without having been invited or brought in by servants? We don’t know and it’s useless to speculate.
What we know is that the king threw him out into the darkness. He was rejected, most likely because he insulted the king by not wearing a robe. Jesus told this parable to remind us all that it is possible to reject Him and His love. We know that there are people who reject Jesus and the grace that is ours, which is free and undeserved. That’s not God’s plan. I’d call it ‘operator error.’
Was the man who attempted to gain access to the wedding feast doing it by dishonest means? This parable doesn’t come right out and tell us, although it does say both good and bad were brought in to the feast. We know that the parable is about the Kingdom of God. Was it about trying to sneak into the Kingdom? Was he not relying on God’s grace in Christ Jesus and trying to gain access through his own merits? The Scriptures teach us that those who reject Jesus, reject God and the grace of God.
The parable also reminds us about judgement and attempting to judge others. That, we learn, is for God to decide. We are called to clothe ourselves in the robes of the Kingdom, the fruits of the Spirit that Paul writes about. We are to look at our lives, take an honest look at ourselves and ask for God’s forgiveness. There will be judgement in the Kingdom, but fortunately that is God’s role.
So, we look inside ourselves—how are we accepting the free gifts God has given us? Do we push them aside? Do we take them for granted without coming before Jesus in prayer and confession?
Are we following through on our promises made in Holy Baptism with regards to our children? Are we living for others, or only for ourselves?
We regularly fall short of what God asks of us. We forget or neglect. These are normal human tendencies which God understands. In the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer Jesus taught us, we ask God to “forgive our trespasses (sins) as we forgive others.” Jesus teaches us to bring our cares, our sorrows, our fears, and our sins before Him. He is quick to forgive and to grant us pardon.
The robe of righteousness is freely given to those who understand Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It is the gift of a loving Savior who has invited us to the Great Heavenly Banquet Feast in the Kingdom of God. Let us freely accept that robe and wear it with joy. Jesus has opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers and calls us to share that amazing news with others. This is our task. Share His love. Share the joy of the Kingdom. The rest will fall into place.