How frustrating and annoying is it when you put on a party or other function, and no one shows up? You meticulously plan the event, get the food and drink, clean, decorate and set up, and then, wait with anticipation for the guests to arrive. But when they don’t show, and don’t tell you they’re not coming, it becomes very disheartening and quite depressing. Too often this turns to anger as you catch up with them to hear they simply forgot, or they chose to do something else instead, or they wanted to be at someone else’s function.
It so often happens in churches that a lot of effort goes into putting something together, to find that few people show up, or it is the same old crowd time and again. Tragically, some of the more vocal people in the congregation, the ones who insist these things occur, are inevitably the ones least likely to show up and support it. We live busy lives, and there are too many things competing for our precious and seemingly insufficient time. We want our church to be there, but only if it’s convenient and can be slotted into our overly hectic schedules.
Jesus continues his parables about the kingdom of God and about those who have a place in it. In the wedding feast parable, he presents a scene of a king holding a wedding banquet for his son. But the ones he invites do not come. They are full of their own importance, and are just rude, ignoring him, even beating up his servants inciting such a rage that the king destroys them. But he is relentless, he has a wedding feast, and he intends to share it with people, so he goes to common folk and invites them instead. And they come, excited and enthralled, except one who is unprepared and undressed for the occasion, whom the king casts out. For many are called, but few are chosen.
Matthew again gives the image of the religious leaders and Israel, the original guests invited to God’s wedding feast, being cast aside by their own actions. They are complacent, full of their own importance, consumed by their own agenda’s and concerns, to heed the invitation to God’s feast. So he not only rejects them, he destroys their arrogant pretence and goes to the common folk, the outcasts, the gentiles, those who are willing to come to the feast. But there is an expectation for those invited, they need to be wearing the right robes, those robes washed in the blood of the lamb. They need to be clothed in Christ in order to attend the feast, and those who are not and removed.
The church has no time for complacency or self-righteous piety. There is no room for any of us to be comfortable, assuming that because we’re Lutheran, or we come to church each week, or we live good upright lives, that we have a place at the wedding feast. Those places are reserved for those who have Christ firmly in their lives, who puts Christ first, and then adjusts the other aspects of their lives accordingly. This is a special invite, and wonderful opportunity, that not only affects now, but all eternity. As we grow in our own faith journey, we become the means through which others are invited to this feast. Only as we demonstrate Christ in us, can we help others to be robed with Christ as they join the feast to which the Lord has invited them.