Revd Linda Whetter's Sermon for Trinity 18 Sunday 11th october 2020

 Sermon. Matt. 22:1-14.  Trinity 18 Yr A.

In the name of God The Father The Son and The Holy Spirit.

 

Anxiety was a major factor in daily life when Paul wrote the beautiful letter to the people of Philippi, we heard in our New Testament reading today, and you can only empathise with Paul and his co-worker’s struggles in pointing people to Christ, when people spent much of their time trying to gain favour from their malevolent deities in the pagan world of that time. Life is full of anxiety for many at the moment too and if you were trying to point people in the direction of Christ to offer hope and encouragement, you may not choose the parable from our Gospel today.

 

However, on closer inspection today’s parable may be a better choice than is at first apparent. Verse 6 sounds very like last weeks gospel and indeed is a follow on from it.  The connection may not be immediately obvious, but like all parables it lends itself to embroidery and here we have some more significant stitches to add to an ever-expanding tapestry.  Jesus continues with the same thread of teaching begun in last Sunday’s passage from Matt. 21.  Jesus is still aiming his parable at those who reject him.  However, In contrast to the previous parable, God is not a landlord, but host and joyful father of the groom, while the people are not tenants but invited guests.

 

No doubt, this is a parable of inclusion and exclusion, but it may not be work in the way some might think. Because, to hear this parable and conclude that God is an angry king who, if he doesn’t get his way, destroys people and their cities simply does not fit with the God revealed by Jesus Christ throughout the four gospels. Like all parables, it begs to be taken seriously, if not literally.

 

 So, what separates or distinguishes the first invited guests from the second? The difference isn’t that one was more deserving that then other. None of them had done anything to earn or deserve an invitation. It was just given.

 

The sole motivation is to share his banquet, to join in and be part of his kingdom and life. All were given the same opportunity. There is only one thing that distinguishes the first invited guests from the second invited guests. Presence. The second invited guests showed up. The first invited guests did not, and along with the one who was not properly attired, they excluded themselves. It all boils down to the fact that the invitation is to a feast, we are all invited to God’s banquet.  Some do not accept the invitation. Some attack even the messenger, but everyone is included and those who do not accept the invitation, exclude themselves.

 

 That is the only difference between the two groups. And is the key to our life with God; to show up and be present and our lives will change, the circumstances may or may not, seasons come and seasons go, some years produce better growth than others, some years all appears to wither.

 

 

Life is uncertain and difficult for many at the moment, anxieties are high, and people are looking for comfort from all manner of directions. This parable today may not at first glance be an obvious one to look to Christ for assurance; we may find ourselves wishing that the parable had been composed slightly differently. But if it had been, a vital point would have been lost. The parable of the wedding in today’s gospel was spoken when Jesus saw people reject him. The story is symbolic, the invitation is real. Marriage is   the   metaphor for God’s covenant relationship with his people. In dressing for a wedding, we dress for the day. In dressing ourselves in Christ, we dress for eternity. The crux of the matter is this: God wants to clothe us in garments of Christ, and the Good News is that God supplies all the clothes we need for every season but God leaves it up to us to put them on.

 

 

So whatever you or those you love may be facing at this time, whatever comes your way, good or not so, may you be assured by the words of St Paul, ‘Stand firm in the Lord, 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’ (Phill: 4; 9)

 Amen.

 

 

 

 


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