Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Feeling spiritually on top of things, but physically feeling really ground down. Been sick since Sunday and I have been playing it low key since then.

One of the sadnesses was that I had to cancel the follow up meeting for the L!VE iT weekend which should have happened on Sunday night - will have to reschedule.

Anyway, aside from that, Ron Kibble sadly but mercifully died last the week before last. I was able to pray Last Rites with him which was fantastic. Now he is reaping the rewards of faithfully following Jesus - his funeral will be in Church on 20th October at 12noon.

Anyway, here's the sermon...

When it’s meal time in your house, what do you do? Does the person doing the cooking give everyone a five minute warning? If there are guests do you invite them to come and sit up at the table? If the family is scattered in different rooms in the house do you stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell, ‘Come and get it!’ However the invitation is given, you anticipate that everyone will respond and make their way to the table. The meal in the king’s house that we heard about in this morning’s Gospel, was ready, and the invitation to come and eat was given but those who were invited did not come. Now at this point, we begin to realise that this a story that is a little larger than life, as eventually some of the servants who carried the invite were attacked and killed. The king gathers an army, and military operations were carried out, a city was destroyed, and after that the meal was still ready and waiting to be served.

The other thing that is odd about this parable is the chap who turns up improperly dressed, he was thrown out and the Jesus’ comment is - many are called but few are chosen.

Despite the confusing nature of this parable, overblown as it may be in places, I believe that the message is really quite clear. God is the king giving the feast. He does the preparation and provides the messengers. The kingdom of heaven with which the parable is concerned is any place where God is recognised and his will is done. The preparations for the coming kingdom are done by the prophets and the ministry of John the Baptist.

With the preparations done, the invitations are given and almost instantly they are interwoven with rejections. First come invitations to those who are expected to accept. When they don’t, more servants are sent to push the invitation with greater insistence, but still without success.

The servants are sent out a third time, but this time to invite those who had not expected an invite. The response is good and all the seats are filled, but with a mixture of people both bad and good. This leads to that chap being thrown out. The king who had made the invitation came to see the crowd gathered in his honour, and noticed someone not suitably prepared.

The call goes out from the host, ‘Come, for all is ready!’ It is the same call as the invitation which Jesus gave at the beginning of his ministry, ‘The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel.’ Both calls lead to division between those who accept and those who reject.

The bottom line friends is, are we ready to enter God’s kingdom? Only you can decide to accept or reject the invitation. The question is, does an eternal

relationship with God, healing for past hurts, and knowledge that despite what might be thrown at us in life, we are loved without limit, really feature for you...

What is Jesus trying to teach... the kingdom of God is a place where those eternal longings are a reality. It is the time and place where God’s goodness is celebrated, felt and seen. Every single person is invited to this celebration - no one is turned away, no-one is not good enough, no-one is unworthy. What’s more - the invitation costs us nothing and all we have to do is accept, but no excuses are acceptable. Nothing else is of greater value than this invite...

Oh but then there are some conditions it seems. That poor chap is put outside for not wearing a wedding robe - for many are called and few are chosen... It seems that there is a little more to it than just turning up to the party.

Elsewhere in the scriptures Paul writing to the Galatian christians, talks about ‘clothing yourself with Christ.’ In the book of Revelation it says that ‘the fine clothes are the good deeds of God’s people.’ The wedding garment needed here could also be a ‘putting on of Christ’ through Baptism. These passages and ideas remind me that the invitation to celebrate in God’s kingdom comes free to all, but we also need to be ready to respond. Being ready is not just willing to come to discover more, to enjoy the company, to eat the food and drink the wine,

but it is about living lives that reflect those kingdom values of divine justice, mercy, peace and love. This is about intent of the heart and how we live out our lifestyle. It is about our baptisms not just being a distant memory and long invisible sign of the cross, but rather obvious in the way we think, speak, live, shop and so on.

Recently, at the L!VE iT weekend we recalled God’s eternal hospitality and love - welcoming us to sit and eat bread and drink wine with him round this table. We recalled that this meal is about thanksgiving for all that God has given us, especially in Christ, but also about renewed resources of faith that affect not just the way we worship or build friendships on Sunday, but also about how we live that out Monday through Saturday too wherever we are.

For as we gather in church this morning, we re-clothe ourselves with Christ; here through bread and wine Christ not only goes with us, but dwells inside each of us afresh.

This morning God invites you to the wedding reception of his Son. The invitation is free - all you need to do is respond to it by clothing yourself with Christ, living out your baptism, empowered with Christ himself in you - put simply, by living lives that show how important it is that we have ben invited to that wedding celebration. Amen.

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