A sermon preached for St Mary’s in the Baum and St Chads Rochdale.
Father, may these spoken words be faithful to the written word and lead us to the living word, Jesus Christ our Lord
I’ve recently put my house up for sale, we’ve lived in it for 12 years. In that time my husband and I have had five children and currently him and I sleep downstairs so that the children have all the room upstairs. We’ve slept downstairs for the past three years. We’ve always worked on making what we have go that bit further and that bit longer. Our kitchen table only sits five, so when we all eat together we get a plastic table from upstairs and we all squish together sharing food and laughs.
During this time when we are thinking about stewardship and how we can try and give more, I like to use the image of a dinner table, a table a bit like my own, where we don’t have much, but there are always more seats added even when things are tight.
In the gospel today the king is throwing a wedding banquet for his son. The table is laid out waiting for those who are invited. The king sends out his slaves to tell the people who are invited it is time to come, it is time to start the feast and share in great joy.
However the invited do not want to go. In the Gospel it says,
“But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.”
The invited turn their backs on the king’s invitation and go back to their business, back to their farm, back to focusing on what they want, what they think they need. It is so easy to become too busy, too preoccupied with the things that are seen to matter. It is very easy to be so busy with the things of what is happening now than the things of eternity.
Today there is so much pressure to get the right job, the right car, the right social life, the right house.
And Jesus knows all this, and is speaking of his concerns to the man made laws and wants of the chief priests and the Pharisees.
Before this parable, Jesus had just finished telling them the parable of the tenants where he warns,
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
Jesus uses today’s parable as of a way of explaining his warning to the Pharisees and chief priests and we are to heed the same warning, that with all this noise of modern living, of man-made expectations and desires, it is impossible to hear the calm, soft invitation from Jesus.
As the parable goes on, we see the king telling the slaves to go back out and invite anyone to the feast, good and bad.
Everyone is welcome to the table and the king makes sure that this is the case.
However, as the wedding banquet begins, the king sees a man who isn’t in the right clothes, he has been invited, he is there, but somehow he has missed the dress code.
He has come to accept his invitation, but is unaware that the table which he is invited to is transformative and reclothes him in a robe, clothed in Christ.
The man is asked, “How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?”, The man was speechless.
He is speechless. After his fight to succeed in life, through the countless noise of expectation, so secure in his own clothes, in his own merit that he is lost for words that he would even be questioned.
But hold on you say, everyone is invited, good and bad, so why is this man being challenged? We must remember that Jesus is the way the truth and the life, that the table he invites us to transforms us from the inside out and as we live in communion with Christ, we become clothed in him seven days a week, not just on Sundays, not just when we are in church, we love our neighbours 365 days a year, we don’t just put on Christ on a Sunday morning and then on a Monday pop him on the coat peg.
You see everyone is welcome to the feast, everyone is welcome to the table but the table changes us.
In todays New Testament reading Paul says,
“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”.
Wearing the right spiritual clothes is about becoming more like Christ, and by doing so, others will see Christ through us.
Everyone is welcome to the table but the table changes us.
We are transformed.
We become guests at the most joyous feast imaginable.
The questions I wanted to pose for us as we step out into another new week are,
How easy is it to not hear Jesus’s invitation because we are so focused on what we want?
How easy is it to become engulfed by the consumerist nature of the world?
How do we as Christians fight against the temptation to strive for what we think we need for a good life instead of listening to God’s will?
Finally How can we make space to keep hearing that quiet consistent invitation to the feast, to the table where we are changed from within, washed through by his blood, fed by his broken body, dying to sin and raised up in his resurrection in glorious apparel.
We must remember that our invitation to the banquet is constant, the dinner table will always extend, more chairs are always added.
We must remember that it’s in our hearts that our King calls us, that is where Jesus invites us to step forward to his table.
So this morning as we share in communion let’s make a space to re-hear our invitation to the table and thank God for this invitation to share in his endless joy and love.
I’ll finish with Paul’s words from the New Testament reading,
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.