Thursday, July 3, 2014

Banquet Guests

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, 'Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.' But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.' Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
"But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen." Matthew 22:1-14 

We are preparing for hundreds of guests on my mother's front lawn tomorrow. Not a wedding feast, nor any sort of banquet, but a simple refreshment at the end of a bicycle parade. My family has been hosting the parade for more than forty years in this little town. There will be upwards of 500 children and adults gathered here. It is a short event but something cherished for generations. Most people are very grateful to participate in something so simple and familial. A few are critical that we don't have more food and beverage options, despite the fact that it is all free to the takers.

Jesus was instructing the disciples about the reality of God's kingdom.God's generosity is limitless and all are invited. God's love is limitless and we are welcomed to be a part of it. It is free to all takers. Jesus told the parable to put a human face on that which we cannot a first understand. We are invited to a splendid banquet, overflowing with capacity and love. We can stand outside and be critical or be grateful, and joyfully participate. God's invitation is open. It is us who hold ourselves back and suffer in isolation.

Today I ask God to help me to say yes to the invitation. May I be ready, able and willing for every invitation from God. May our yeses be strong and firm, trusting that what we will receive from God's groaning table will be more abundant and generous than we can ever imagine, today.

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