Glencairn Methodist Church
October - 2011
I guess most of us have attended at least one wedding in our lives. Notwithstanding the stress and tension experienced by some, it is usually an occasion of JOY. At the beginning of the Marriage Service the Minister says, "We have come together in the presence of God to witness the marriage of [Jack and Jill], to ask his blessing on them, and to share in their joy." Rarely would we refuse an invitation to a wedding.
Jesus tells a parable about a King who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. In those days, all of the likely guests would have lived within walking distance of the palace, and the procedure was that the King would first send out the invitations, telling the guests that the wedding would be on such and such a day, but did not mention the time. Then on the appointed day, when everything was prepared, he would send his servants to bid the invited guests to come immediately. They would of course be ready and would drop whatever they were doing and come right away.
But in this story, they refuse to come. So the King sent out more servants with the plea, "Look, I have prepared my dinner: the fatted cattle have been slaughtered and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet." But the guests paid no attention and went about their day to day business - the farm or the shop. Some even seized the servants, ill-treated them and killed them. Not a good thing to do! Understandably the King was enraged and he sent his army to destroy those murderers and to burn their city. Not a good outcome!
At the time Jesus told this parable, he was having trouble with the Jewish religious leaders because of his criticism of them. This story is directed against them. The Jews were God's own chosen people, but yet they flatly refused to recognise Jesus as God's promised Messiah, who was introducing the Kingdom of Heaven. They spurned God's invitation to come into that Kingdom. Well, this was nothing new. The Jews had been rebellious from the time of the Exodus. Many times they repented and God forgave them, but there were times when dire consequences followed, such as the time they were taken off into Exile. And now they were to be destroyed and their city burnt. [This may be a reference to the sack of Jerusalem by the Romans inAD70, about the time Matthew was writing his Gospel.]
But back to the story: What did the King do? Well he sent his servants out to the street corners to invite to the banquet all the people they could find, both good and bad, and they came and the wedding hall was filled with guests. This is interpreted as God's invitation to all the nations and Gentiles to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And, dear Reader, this is our invitation also. However one man came who was not wearing wedding clothes. He would have had time to change. This man was thrown out. And the final line from Jesus is, "Many are invited but few are chosen." We interpret this about ourselves in this way: Yes, all people are invited to respond to the call of the Gospel to become Christians, to accept God's invitation to be with him. Their sins are forgiven through grace. This is a wonderful thing, but it places a great responsibility on those who accept. They are to come "wearing wedding clothes." That is they have a responsibility to try to make their lives more Christ like, to turn away from sin and to learn to love God and their neighbours.
Please accept God's invitation to his heavenly banquet but make sure you are properly attired!
Read Matthew 22: 1-14.
9 October 2011
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm