Oct
16
2008

October 13, 2008 \\ On Matthew 22:1-14

What’s the most wonderful party or banquet you’ve ever been invited to?

When have you received an invitation to something you just really didn’t want to go to?

What’s the lamest excuse you’ve ever come up with to get out of going to an event you just did not want to go to?

With that in mind we’re going to listen to today’s Gospel, the story of a host who invites, guests who have better things to do, and the host’s desire to invite somebody – anybody – in their place!

Read the text … Imagine that you are there as this happens. Note what’s said, and how it is said. Pay attention to how you feel as the story unfolds.

Well, you gotta love a host – a king no less – who goes to great lengths to throw a good party.

Jesus says here that this is a story of how God’s kingdom works.  So we’ll explore what this story says about God’s ways, and how they shape our ways.

What invitation have you heard from God?

How do you receive this invitation? Do you ever find yourself trying to ignore or avoid the invitation so you can go about your daily business? Gk = they did not want to come. Do you ever find yourself unwilling to respond to God?

The good news is this: You’re invited! God opens his table to you. God gets out the good china and silver and has the best prepared for you. God wants to spend time with you, to sit at the table and talk about your dreams and problems. God is on a mission to bless the world, and you are invited to join in that work. God wants to take you seriously – and wants you to take him seriously.

The invitation comes in many ways. Every time you’re grateful for the sunrise or aware of al the work that goes into growing and preparing your food, you accept the invitation. Every time you come to church, every time you pick up extra cans for the food pantry, every time you talk with a friend about your faith, you’re accepting the invitation.

When the king invites the power brokers and elites to the banquet, it’s expected they will come. It is a show of allegiance to the king and support for his son. So when the take the invitation lightly, it shows that they do not value the leadership of the king, that they are not faithful subjects. In fact, the killing of the servants indicates they are actually rebelling.

There’s a connection between the businessmen who are too busy to come to the banquet and the man who is found without the appropriate attire. This is not a lesson about proper attire for banquets or church. By not having the proper attire for the event, the man is showing that he does not value the invitation, or the one who issues it. He’s taking advantage of the free meal, but not taking seriously the relationship that is offered by the invitation.

What do you think Jesus is trying to say with this theme about disrespecting the invitation?

There is a fascinating tension here. The invitation is freely given – but accepting it costs something. The businessmen would have had to give up their own interests to accept. The good and the bad who are swept in off the streets are expected to prepare so that they can properly participate in the celebration.

If the invitation is to a relationship, its easy to see how this works. If you’re married, or a parent, or a child, or a friend, you know that relationship takes work, investment. Or to put it another way… everyone is invited, but to actually get the dinner, you have to put on your robe, pull up to the table and get out your fork. It isn’t that you are “out” but if you put off the invitation, you miss the meal. You may be setting for McDonalds when you could have filet mignon.

When you heard this text, whom did you relate to? If you were there, who would you be in this story?

When I hear it I see myself as one of the servants tasked with trying to bring the invited guests into the banquet, and then scouring the city sharing the invitation with everyone who will listen. I think this is one of Jesus’ key points.

If you look at the king as God, and the chosen guests as Israel, its easy to see the parallels with God leading Israel out of desert and the promised land (the invitation) and Israel making idols and ignoring God’s prophets (the rebellion). So God sent Jesus to come set the relationship right, but the religious of the day didn’t see him for what he was – the ambassador of the king – and had him killed.

The amazing thing is that God does not wipe out Israel, but keeps on inviting…and not just the chosen few but everyone who will listen.

Why do you think it is important that the banquet hall be full?

Who are we called to go out and invite, and what are we to invite them to?

We often think about inviting people to church, but just as we were invited to a relationship, we are inviting people to know Jesus, to have their lives changed through relationship. And we’re inviting them into a relationship with us.

The feast is ready. All is prepared. Are you coming to the table?

Amen.

Written by Bob Fisher in: gatherings,spirituality |

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