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    Oct 15, 2017

    Proper 23A

    Preacher: The Rev. Joan Mason, Rector

    Series: Preist Associate

    Category: Weekly Sermon

    Detail:

    This is a tough Gospel reading to listen to. The story is full of violence and anger, and it doesn’t fit my image of God.  In the passage, the king gets angry because none of his invited guests want to come to his banquet, so he sends out his servants to ask them again.  Not only do they still refuse, but they also kill the messengers.  So the King gets revenge, slaughters the killers, and burns down their town.  He then invites everyone and anyone off the street and when one person doesn’t come with the right clothes, he ties him up and throws him into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  

    See what I mean?  At least we don’t have to wonder if this is a real life story.  Jesus labels it as parable and says it is “like the kingdom of God.”  If that is so (that it’s like the kingdom of God), then the banquet must represent more than just a festive meal.  I asked myself …. “What is being offered, that when rejected, would be so upsetting to the host.”  I think the banquet represents more than food.  Instead it represents all that God offers us – life itself, and all good things.  God gives us everything and this is the invitation to accept all that God has for us.  The King therefore is symbolically offering to his wedding guests a new life with all that they could desire – nourishment and sustenance for life.  But the guests don’t show up.  No wonder he is upset.  I don’t imagine God acting with violence like the King did, but I do imagine when we don’t bother to show up…. or when we take things for granted as if God had little to do with what we have or what we do, I bet it would be discouraging and disappointing to the host.

    So the first message for us today is to show up.  Be sure to answer the invitation and come to the banquet.  Like the people of this story, we often over-book and over-commit. We intend to show up more often, but like those who were invited to the wedding, we just have too much to do, or are just too tired from doing it all.  

    The second message has to do with the under-dressed man.  Remember, he comes to the party not properly attired and gets thrown out?  Since God doesn’t deal with something as insignificant as what someone is wearing, it must have to do with what’s inside the man. God requires more of him than just showing up.  The same applies to us.  Not only do we need to answer the invitation and come to the banquet meal, but more is expected.

    In our second reading, Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we have a teaching about what is expected (see underlines in your bulletin).  Paul tells us, “Stand firm in the Lord.  Then further down, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone.  Do not worry about anything.  Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me (and the God of peace will be with you).”  These are tough things to do if we have to do them “always” and to “everyone.”  

    In essence, we are being asked to be like Jesus; to act like Jesus would.  That may well be the outer clothing that God wants to see on us.  What if we did this?  Tried to look and act more like Jesus?  It would change our interactions in the world, but it would also change how people look at you.  Because now they would see not only you, but the image of Christ through you.  

    Jesus is asking us today to put on a new outer clothing; to make a change in life priorities so we can better reflect Him to others.  There are 2 places you can analyze that will give you quite an insight into what your priorities are in your life.  They are:  how you spend your time and how you spend your money.  Scripture says, where your heart is, there is where your treasure will be (MT 6:21).  So by looking at where you spend your money will tell you where your heart is, and what’s important to you.  The same applies to how you spend your time.

    The questions you can ask yourself are:  Do others see the face of Christ through my time and money choices? Or, what do I need to change so I can better reflect Him?  

    As you move through this week, I invite you to think about your priorities and how they are reflected in your life.  Is it obvious through your choices where God falls in your priority list?  God adores you, and knows what you need. He forgives you any time you turn away from him, and calls you back every time.  He loves you.  The invitation is extended.  Strive to be like Jesus, and come to the banquet.