Accept the Gift

Matthew 22:1-14

 

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again 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.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those 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, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then 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.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
 
 

It was a Sunday a few years ago, like many others before it and since. The service progressed from the welcome and confession and forgiveness, hymns, readings, sermons. You know the routine. The offering was gathered, and the table was set. All had been made ready, and now it was time to welcome the people to the feast. Communion – I had presided at the table at least a thousand times, as best as I can figure. I have had the privilege of administering the sacrament over and over again. I know it by heart, and I could probably do it in my sleep. Some think I have!

 

But that day, as I lifted up the bread, and raised the cup, and shared once again the good news — the bread of life — given for YOU. The cup of salvation — given for YOU. Jesus Christ, in, with and under this meal we share. I was almost moved to tears at the awesome wonder of this meal. What an incredible gift. What a wonderful celebration. What a powerful gift of grace. How often, I realized at that moment, do I take this wonderful gift for granted? How incredible it is to have the privilege to share this with all who are gathered. This meal we share is the foretaste of the feast to come. How do we receive this gift? And what gets in the way of accepting God’s invitation to the feast?

 

The problem is not in the invitation, but in the acceptance of the gift. God’s love, forgiveness and hope are all given as a free gift, and given for ALL to receive. The question is HOW is the gift received? Do we accept the gift, and realize its power in our lives, or do we make excuse after excuse, and simply ignore the gift? 

 

Many of us haven’t received Holy Communion in more than seven months! Being without has made us realize how much we cherish it, yes? We hope we can all gather around the altar once again soon! 

 

But what about the proper attire? Does that mean we need to dress up to go to church? I think what Jesus is getting at here is this: God never alters the robe of righteousness to fit the child; God changes the child to fit the robe. Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me. Hold me, fill me, mold me, use me. That is the RSVP Jesus asks to the invitation. 

 

The invitation has already been sent, and it is sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. It is that cross on your forehead that states that YOU belong to God. God provides the proper attire for the event. 

 

Jesus Christ died for you. He rose for you. He reigns for you. He clothes you in Baptism. He forgives you in his Word of forgiveness. He feeds you with his body and blood in His Supper. The banquet hall is here, and you are the honored guests.

 

Let us pray:

Dear God, we long to gather at your table once again. When we do, prepare us, clothe us, and open us to the wonder of the meal. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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