Sermon – October 12, 2014
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. Matthew 22:1
Please be seated.
I LOVE weddings. As a little girl, my mother gave me her beautiful half slips for my dress-up clothes and you could often find me wearing them on my head as pretend veils. At 7, as a Roman Catholic, I “made my first communion.” The experience was fraught with trying to remember so many details. The best part was wearing the beautiful white dress and the veil. The best part of the Sound of Music was Maria’s wedding dress. I still have my Barbie doll’s wedding dress. And if you would have seen me Friday, my day off, you’d have seen me watching a marathon of, “Say ‘yes’ to the dress.” I guess in addition to the love and community witness of weddings, I especially love the clothes.
Recently, my grandchildren attended the wedding of their former day care teacher, Miss Tina. I loved seeing the photos from that day. The kids looked like they were having so much fun dancing with the bride and with each other. Later, I was talking with my son. He said my 8 year old granddaughter, Sydney, really loved the wedding. She asked her daddy to hold her so she could better see the bride come down the aisle. As the bride approached, escorted by her father, Sydney whispered in her father’s ear, “We’ll be doing that some day.” My son said it was all he could do to not start blubbering.
Yes I’d say I’m a feminist and all for women’s rights. I am astounded by the costs of a wedding and understand why people elope. All of that is true and I still love a traditional wedding.
And if you’ve planned a wedding or even a big party, you can relate to the king in our Gospel lesson today. How wonderful that your child is being married. The day comes and you prepare a sumptuous banquet and party for the community. You’ve sent invitations and asked people to let you know if they’re coming so you know how much to prepare. Once the banquet is ready, you send out the notice and suddenly people who said they’d come, don’t even acknowledge you!
Of course you can’t believe it, so you once again send out, explaining all of the work you’ve gone to to create a wonderful party. Now, those you’ve invited are annoyed and even kill the messengers! Finally, you just need the food to be eaten — kind of like we try to get people to take home food after pot luck – and you invite everyone, every single person you can find, both bad and good, we are told.
Jesus is trying to explain the Kingdom of God to us. God prepares a sumptuous banquet, like any parent would prepare for their child who is getting married. But the day comes and what happens? Oh, so many other things appear to be more important. Just like the Israelites in the desert worshipping the golden calf, we find so many other things pulling at us. This wonderful, loving banquet seems unimportant. We don’t want to go to the feast. Sometimes, we even kill those who bring the invitation to us.
And God wants people at the banquet. God invites all people. The banquet is open to everyone! God’s feast is available to everyone, not just a few. God’s feast is available to everyone who will come to partake of it.
Yet, you cannot come lightly or thoughtlessly, like the man who showed up disrespectfully without a wedding robe. You cannot expect to slip in, eat some food and dash out! Stepping into the banquet hall requires responsibility and accountability. Stepping into the feast God has prepared for us means we acknowledge our host, we respect our host, and we do the right thing by our host.
We join the banquet community. We do our best to live as God has asked us to do and as Jesus showed us and as the Holy Spirit continues to speak to us. We do our best to put aside the golden calves in our lives and remember the giver of the feast.
God is delighted to prepare the banquet of life in Christ for us. God is delighted for us to know how much we are loved. God is delighted to show us how to live in ways that serve each other, reject evil, worship God in community, and strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being.
We must first accept the invitation, then we must show up, and finally, we must come prepared.