Come to the Party, Come Ready!

Rev. Petie McLean
October 12, 2014

Matthew 22:1-14
Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14For many are called, but few are chosen.”

That’s the story found in Matthew’s gospel. The king gets together a wonderful banquet and no one can come, everyone is too busy or tired or distracted or……you fill in the blank.

Not to be undone the King extends the invitation to everyone….the good and the bad, powerful and unknown, inside and outside people.

Everyone is welcome, the feast is ready, ya’ll come (as my southern roots would say).
And they do come to enjoy the feast, they fill the room.

One poor person however finds he does not come dressed correctly, and is thrown out.
----that’s the cranky part of this story. Why invite everyone and then throw someone out.
It is very clear in this story that all are invited. Joseph Donders an African preacher who fought long and hard against apartheid, wrote, “It had been God’s intention from the very beginning, to bring them all together in the end, gathering them from all over the earth, in their parental home. A dream maintained, in spite of the news of Abel and Cain, Noah and his sons, Babel and it tower, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Essau, Jospeh and his brothers, the Jews and Pharaoh, WW I and WWII, the holocaust and apartheid.” and I would add Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Syria and IS.

“Isaiah foretold how one day all nations would come together climbing the mountain of the Lord; coming together to share and celebrate tearing down all the veils that hide us from each other; tearing the webs that keep us apart; drying all tears that were ever shed; removing all differences and discriminations; bring them together to a banquet.”

Donders goes on to say, “But not yet we are not yet ready. We have more important things to do, places to go, grudges to keep, divisions to maintain."

The invitation has been extended by God to enter into God’s kingdom and it is the most important invitation of our lives. It is life altering and life encouraging. It is the invitation to focus our living completely on the kingdom of God in all the things we do and the way we do them. It is an invitation to enter into consistent living so that we are what we believe. It is the invitation to “rejoice in the Lord always”. It is the invitation to live out peace, patience, justice, kindness, compassion, joy, humility, forgiveness, grace, and even that over worked under practiced one….love. This is the clothing of those who come to the banquet, the feast prepared.
You see, there is something required of us when we come, it is focus. Focus on the kingdom and the work of the kingdom. And when we loose that focus, we might as well not be there. Jesus in these days is focused, focused on the kingdom.

As much as we desire to keep our focus on the kingdom, in reality, sometimes we all come to the banquet in with our feast clothes tattered in a few places; but we are asked, even required to keep our focus on that kingdom and in that focus to live into the hope of the kingdom come, the will be done.
We all want the blessings of God, and we want them on our terms. We want to lavish in what God has given without understanding that God has given us the power to be kingdom people . We are invited to enter into a new way of living, living in the kingdom of God.

“ To whom much is given, much is required”.

I may not like the cranky part of this story, the person who gets tossed in the end just because he didn’t show up in the right clothes, but there is something in that action that I must hear. I have a responsibility to show up ready to do the work of the kingdom, for myself and with others. I must put on the clothing of the one who calls me and offers me the invitation.

In the end this story captures us in many ways. I have to admit that I am often the one who is too busy or too angry or to impatient to be present. I am also the one who comes because no one else has come and sometimes I am the one who shows up just not ready to do the work of the kingdom. That’s the power of these little stories of Jesus, these parables as we call them. They seem to have lids on them, and when we look inside we find ourselves living in so many places.

When our children in worship have finished hearing a story, they are asked wondering questions, questions that have no answers.

I wonder how it feels to be throw a party to which no one comes?
I wonder how it feels to be too busy to come to a party of great magnitude?
I wonder what it feels like to get an invitation you had no idea was possible?
I wonder if it is possible to be both people at once, someone who can’t come and someone who comes?
I wonder how many will finally come to the party?
I wonder where this party is really given?


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