Friday 02 December 2011

Bible Book:

"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.' 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." (vv. 8-10)

Matthew 22:1-14 Friday 2 December 2011


Do you ever get put in that awkward situation where a friend hasinvited you to a party or event that you really don't want to goto? Perhaps you've already got too much going on. Maybe you have towork or there's something else already in the diary. Maybe you justdon't fancy it and you'll make any excuse to avoid going. Most ofus have been there at least once. And most have also been on thereceiving end - the rejected host who's gone to all the troubleonly to hear the transparent excuses of those with 'more important'places to be.

The party host in today's passage is in exactly that situation.He's got the venue, he's got the food and the wine - he's preparedthe party to end all parties. But the important people he thoughthe could rely on to come along have all got something better to bedoing. Ironically, they're also probably the people who think theydeserve to be invited - the people who would be outraged if theywere dropped from the guest list.

There seem to be two groups of guests on the original list. Forsome, maybe it just wasn't the right time. Maybe they had a lot ontheir minds. Maybe there was a pressing family emergency. But verse6 shows us that others had evil intentions - not only did theyreject the invitation, they beat up the messengers. They wantednothing to do with the host or his household. So the host wasn'tgoing to waste his banquet. Instead, he opened his doors to thosewho would never presume to be invited, but who willingly came toshare the celebration.

In many ways, this reading is about vanity. It's about the mistakenexpectation that we can come to God (or not) on our own terms. Thatthe kingdom will wait until we're ready to join in. Sometimes itfeels like there's always something better or more important to dothan spend time with God. Life can be busy and distracting. Even ifwe have the personal space to spend time with God in prayer, it cansometimes be hard to make the mental and spiritual space for properengagement.

Like many of our passages this week, there are a number ofparticularly challenging elements to this story. One of theseelements is where the host kicks out the guest who has not comedressed properly for the occasion. This doesn't seem to be about aliteral dress code for the kingdom - we know that Jesus invites usto come as we are (eg John6:37, James 2:1-26). So perhaps it is about the way inwhich we choose to enter God's presence. The first lot of guestsproved themselves unworthy by rejecting the invitation, but itseems that others can still come to God's table with falseintensions or the wrong attitude.

To Ponder

Are you a party-host or a party-goer? What doesthat say about your faith and discipleship?

God's set a place for you, and laid out thebanquet. Are you on your way?

To what extent does God's timing fit in withyours? Why?

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