In pm's words
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October 16, 2017, 7:22 AM

the one about the wedding robe and that guy...


Sermon from October 15, 2017

Text: Matthew 22: 1-14

 

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, there’s a wedding. Invitations are sent out. Those crème-de-la-crème that are invited decide that they’re too good and they don’t even attempt to come. The feast is spread. The party is here. Come on over! Let’s celebrate good times!

The answer from those invited is a resounding and disheartening no.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in a lot of weddings. It is a ‘perk’ of being a pastor to be involved in such gatherings and celebrations. I know how much stress goes into planning a wedding. I cannot imagine the amount of stress, anger, and sadness that would transpire if no one that was invited showed up.

And remember – this isn’t people who ‘forgot’ about the wedding. These aren’t even people who are too busy to attend. These are people who simply don’t want to come. They refused the invitation.

Can you imagine that hurt, that sadness? Can we understand that anger at being made so small and dismissed? You’ve invited people to celebrate in this joy. You want to share this joy with those you love and know. Yet, no one – not one person – feels it’s important enough to attend.

We hear that part of the parable, we recognize that sadness and anger, and then we see the king in this parable do a surprising thing.

He sends out his servants to gather anyone and everyone to come to the party. He invites – specifically – the good AND the bad. Invites them to the party. Fill this place up with people.

Throughout this parable – I love that image.

I keep thinking of the supposed upcoming wedding for Prince Harry in England. Instead of seeing diamonds, designer labels, and the finest attire one can only dream about…

We see fanny packs and sandals. We see tattoos and track marks. We see sashes and trash bags. We see tube tops and trucker hats. We see it all. Mostly filled with the people we wouldn’t expect at that wedding.

I don’t know about y’all, but that’s kind of a cool sight. Seeing those whom you never expected to be feasting on the best food, drinking the best wine, and having the grandest of times. Those who never thought they’d be invited, and not only are they sought out to attend, they are lavished as honored guests; they’re the ones on the dance floor. That’s a cool image.

The kingdom of God is full of those whom you wouldn’t expect, couldn’t expect. God has sought them out, brought them in, provided them with the best feast of food, drink, and fun.

Everything so far is OK in our understanding of this parable. We are right there walking along with Jesus as we are enjoying this little parable. We have lots of good and warm fuzzy feelings.

Yet, then we are introduced to that guy. That guy who is not dressed the part, that guy who doesn’t have the right attire. That guy – is thrown out.

Where did that come from? It doesn’t make sense. How can someone be thrown out when everyone is invited?

I remember once after college when I was in one of my first weddings. Everyone looked so nice and dressed so well. It was definitely one of the fanciest weddings I’d been a part of. I was honored to be in the wedding party. And yet, I remember that there was this other guy – he was part of the wedding party too – I distinctly remember him because he was dressed in jeans.

Now, I don’t have a problem with jeans – I really don’t. But, in that situation it just didn’t seem right. Especially for the couple. They were mad. Really mad about it. Because it was apparently done with intention; to draw focus; to be a topic of conversation.

I even vaguely remember hearing one of them say, “I even offered him some pants – and he refused.” They were livid.

He wasn’t thrown out where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth, but from the looks of my friends’ eyes – they really wanted to put him out there.

The biggest source of anger wasn’t so much that he didn’t wear the ‘right’ clothes, but made the couple feel that he didn’t consider their occasion ‘worthy enough’ to be set a part. To be different enough to fully celebrate with everyone. Where he even refused their gift.

I struggle – deeply – with this part of the parable in our Gospel today. It hurts. Anyone and everyone is invited – the good and the bad. People are invited from the (potentially) wildest of places to be here. And yet, this guy doesn’t belong?

Again, I struggle with this text.

Yet, as I thought, as I read, as I talked with friends, colleagues, and others I began to see – maybe – where Jesus is coming from. Perhaps where Jesus is pointing towards.

Yes, anyone and everyone is invited. Both those who just didn’t make that initial cut and those who weren’t even a thought on the list. All are invited at seemingly the last minute. Did they really have the right attire – the wedding robe – on hand?

I presume that they didn’t. When this parable begins the feast is ready and on the table. I think it is reasonable to assume that all these new guests didn’t have a wedding robe in waiting. But, the king’s got that stuff. I like to think that the robes were provided to all who attended. I think that’s reasonable, too. When you invite someone to partake in something at the last minute, don’t you usually help them out with what to wear, how to dress, what they need?

Hey, my plans with some others fell through to go camping this weekend – you wanna come? I know this is last minute, but don’t worry, I have everything you’ll need. Everything. I promise.

Hey, I know this is last minute, but do you want to come to this shindig I’m hosting? It’s kind of fancy and to help you out I’ve got some stuff for you to where. You’re doing me a favor by being here – and I want you here – so I’m going to help you out. Don’t worry. You’ll fit right in.

We do that sort of stuff, don’t we?

I like to think that the king was aware of that as well. He invited people at the last minute – literally the feast is prepared, and he doesn’t want it to go to waste. So, he invites all the people to come and to show them even further honor in attending; to help them see that they definitely belong there, to make it further known to them how he sees them as honored guests, he decks them out with a wedding robe.

I think that fits in our lives of faith as well.

In this kingdom of God that is here and now – we are invited. We weren’t the first on the list, if there was a list that some were on, it might’ve been the ‘do not invite’ list. Yet, in this celebration we are called, invited, and gathered here. We are welcomed to this great table, and what do we put on?

We put on God’s grace. We cover ourselves in Christ. We have been given robes of faith in our baptism.

Where God has invited us in and washed us clean – not so that we look presentable – I don’t think of it that way at all. Instead, I see baptism as God letting us see ourselves as God has always seen us; clean, pure, perfect. God’s own.

We have been washed so that we might know how God already views us.

We’ve put on that robe, we have been clothed in our faith in Christ. This gift that was given to us freely, we put it on and gather at the table.

Imagine the pain and hurt of the host when an invited person comes in (remember, they were all invited good and bad) and then refuses the gift at the door?

We have been given and lavished with wonderful gifts of life. We are invited into the kingdom through grace. We are washed so that we might know how worthy and good God views us. We are welcomed to the table to feast on the bread of life, the cup of salvation – the body and blood of our Lord. Filled to bursting because of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace.

We are sent out to invite others to be a part of this immense and glorious feast.

As Paul writes in Philippians – rejoice because you are here. Rejoice now and forever because you have been – we all have been – all of the world has been – invited to be here. Wash and know how God sees you as good and worthy. Come to this feast because you have been welcomed here. Be filled and go out in that thankfulness to the world. Serve. Love. Be generous.

Rejoice. You’re here in God’s grace. Your covered in God’s love. Your faith has made you well. God’s given that to you – always. Forever. Free. Rejoice. Share it with everyone else, because you know what? God’s invited them too. Amen.

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