Oct. 12, 2014 Text: Matthew 22:1-14
Dear Friends in Christ,
Mealtimes are often filled with emotions. Peter knows. Sunday dinners with his mother, Ada, his father, Fred, and three siblings were always lively, relates Peter. “On one occasion all of us except mother were in a silly mood, and we began requesting, in rhyme, items at the table. ‘Please pass the meat, Pete.’ ‘May I have a potatah, Ada?’ ‘How about the salt, Walt.’ This went on for a while but then mom got fed up. She stood up: ‘Stop this nonsense right now. I’d like to enjoy my dinner with some good conversation not this silly chatter.’ Then she sat down, still in a huff, turned to my father, and snapped, ‘Pass the bread, Fred.’”
You are cordially invited to . . .
“THE PARTY OF THE YEAR”
It was on Tuesday of Holy Week when Jesus spoke this, the third of his triad of parables about entrance into the Kingdom. The king is planning his son’s royal wedding. When the invitations went out, those invited came up with excuses based on possessions or purchases.
In our busy, consumer-oriented society it is easy to disdain invitations. When we get invited to a party or dinner we may ask ourselves: “Do I really need to go? Will there be a problem if I don’t go? Will I know people there?” Those in the parable answered in all the wrong ways.
When we apply this parable to God’s inviting us to eternal fellowship with him, if we decline, there will be a problem. In our times, ethics are perceived as individual and relative. Many Americans do not accept God’s eternal values as absolute. Yet they are. The Lord’s patience eventually wears thin. As a people we cannot continually turn our back on God and expect his blessing. “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (v. 14)
Many are called, you know? Jesus graphically portrays God as reaching out to people with his inviting grace. God cared enough to search us out and bring us into His Kingdom with celebration and a feast. We need to value those times we have in worship. Our divine services are true foretastes of the eternal banquet.
All who choose to ignore our accountability to God cheapen God’s grace. In fact grace is costly – it cost the life of God’s Son. Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote: “Grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it cost a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” To be invited by God to feast at his table of divine grace is the ultimate honor for all human beings.
Welcome the invitation. Don’t be put off because it is free. This is not some late-night infomercial. This comes freely to you because of Jesus covering the cost of your invitation. Christ has risen and ascended to heaven to host the banquet of all banquets. God values inviting anyone, even us. That divine attitude can shape in us the same desire to invite all.
When you got up this morning, perhaps you hesitated for a moment whether you would come to worship or not. It might be nice to sleep in, or veg out or pursue some other worldly endeavor. But a small voice suggested you accept the invitation. That was the Holy Spirit delivering Christ’s invitation to you.
Even in our more casual day and age, we know there are certain clothes required for certain situations. When God the Father invites us to the wedding feast at which his Son will be the Bridegroom, he supplies us with the right thing to wear, the righteousness of Jesus given at our Baptism. Clothed in Christ’s righteousness, we are ready for the Party of the Year.