“It’s Party Time” – October 15, 2017

“It’s Party Time”
October 15, 2017 – Year A – 19th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Last weekend many of us gathered with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It was like we were in the midst of a joyous party.  Great food.  Wonderful company.  Lots of stories were told.  For me, not only did I host a Thanksgiving Dinner, I also presided at a wedding.  So, it was double the fun!

Jesus tells a rather confusing story, or parable about a wedding banquet.  Food was made ready for cooking.  And so, the meal was prepared.  But horror of horrors, the invited guests didn’t show up.  The King’s slaves were sent out to find the guests.  But the slaves were seized and killed.  Enraged, the King sent his troops to destroy the murderers.  Then more slaves were sent into the city to find guests who would fill the hall.  Then, to make the story even more confusing, the King enters the hall and spots a man who is not wearing a wedding robe.  Speechless, the man ends up bound –  hands and feet, and thrown into the outer darkness.  “Many are called, but few are chosen,” so ends the tale.

This parable is full of allegory.  The King represents God, giving a banquet for the Son, the Messiah.  The people of the streets are the new Christians community – both Gentiles and Jews, who claim to be followers of Christ, but whose actions say otherwise. They are the people who throughout the ages have ignored the prophets and leaders who serve God.   The required “robe”, which the guest who was cast out does not have, is righteousness – the behaviour befitting someone who claims Jesus as Leader.  It is a warning to all who hears this tale, that no one can presume by virtue of their identity – or their baptism – their place in God’s great feast.

Let’s take a deep breath and slowly figure out what this parable means for us 21st century followers of God’s way of love, joy and celebration.  It is party time.  Even in the midst of catastrophic events happening all around the world, God want to throw a party.  You and I and the people who hang out in our stair-wells, and the children in our play-share program, and the Narcotics anonymous members who meet at noon hour, are all invited.  God wants people who are intentionally living the way of kindness, who speak truth – not gossip, who seek out others to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ, and who are filled with grace.  They are the ones who are robed with joy and righteousness.  There is a place for all of these people at the banquet that God is hosting.

In one of my previous congregations, there was a fellow from the community who came to every funeral service held at the church.  He sat through the service and then joined us in the hall for the reception.  Over the time I was at that church, I learned that this man came to the services, not to pay respect to the deceased or their family, but because he loved to eat and visit with others.  He loved to be in community.  He couldn’t afford our fund-raising dinners, but he sure loved our funeral receptions!

As I wrote this message I had the song “Cabaret” by Liza Minneli, playing in my head.  The words are this:

What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play
Life is a cabaret, old chum
Come to the cabaret

Put down the knitting, the book and the broom
It’s time for a holiday
Life is a cabaret, old chum
So come to the cabaret

Come taste the wine
Come hear the band
Come blow that horn
Start celebrating right this way
Your table’s waiting

What could permitting some prophet of doom
To wipe every smile away
Life is a cabaret, old chum
So come to the cabaret.

God’s kingdom is a party.  It’s a celebration beyond any celebration we have ever seen.  We are not in charge of the celebration.  It’s Jesus’ party.  Jesus can invite whomever he wants.  The Pharisees had a problem with the kinds of people Jesus hung out with.  That should not be our problem.  “God is not looking for warm bodies.  God is looking for wedding guests who will rise to the occasion of honouring the Son.” (Barbara Brown Taylor).

Let’s remember that in the midst of hard times, God calls us to a wedding banquet.  Please respond joyfully- thankfully – faithfully!  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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