Sunday 15 October 2017

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 Sunday 15 October 2017

Psalm: Psalm 23


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 themistaken expectation that we can come to God (or not) on our ownterms. That the kingdom will wait until we're ready to join in.Sometimes it feels like there's always something better or moreimportant to do than spend time with God. Life can be busy anddistracting. Even if we have the personal space to spend time withGod in prayer, it can sometimes be hard to make the mental andspiritual space for proper engagement.

There are a number of particularly challenging elements to thisstory. One of these is where the host kicks out the guest who hasnot come dressed properly for the occasion. This doesn't seem to beabout a literal dress code for the kingdom - we know that Jesusinvites us to 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 does that say aboutyour faith and discipleship?
  • God's set a place for you, and laid out the banquet. Are you onyour way?
  • To what extent does God's timing fit in with yours? Why?
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