Saturday, October 15, 2011

Prepare for the wedding feast!

I wonder how many of you would have turned down an invitation to go to the Royal wedding of William and Kate’s.
If you would have been invited what would you have worn?
I bet that many of you would have bought a new outfit for the occasion.
I know in my house when we go to a wedding I have to spend some time going through the different options of what my wife might wear.
Usually it takes at least two days of thinking about what to wear before she settles on a dress.
This is all to say that when we go to weddings even the most mundane of weddings we take time to think about what we are going to wear.
And if we ever went to a royal wedding we would think about even more.
How much more should we think about showing up at banquet prepared by God?
That is the question that is posed to us this morning in our Gospel.

When we first read the Gospel parable this morning we might be perplexed at how the guest who shows up without the correct attire is treated by the king.
It seems a bit harsh.
No one else wanted to go this wedding so he should get some points for showing up right?
Why does the king treat him so badly?
Well, because showing up is only the start.
When we have faith in God we grow in a relationship with God.
We begin, sometimes unconsciously, to bend our lives towards God’s will.
We begin to think more seriously about who we are and what we are doing in relation to God.
Just like if we went to the royal wedding we would give lots of thought to our dress and manner.

This parable is not about good people versus bad people.
Notice that both good and bad people are invited to the wedding feast.
It is about being prepared to live a life of faith.

Today we get to be witnesses to the Baptism of Allison Mamos.
And today is the start of her relationship with God.
For it is in the waters of our Baptism that God claims us as his beloved children.
It is in these waters that we are freed from death and sin.
It is here this morning that Allison will receive the greatest spiritual gifts her parents could give her.
Baptism is not about who is good or bad.
In fact, it assumes that we are all a complicated mix of good and bad.
That we are born in the image of God, and with a rebellious spirit of sin.
Baptism also does not remove these things from us.
The question becomes what are we going to do with this gift?

What are we going to do with the invitation that God has given us to the banquet table?
This morning I want all of you to think about what are you going to do with that gift?
What will Allison do with the gift?

I remember as a kid receiving a new stereo as a present from my parents.
It was a great gift.
It had these really big speakers, a turn table, tape deck, and even a place to plug in one of those new CD players that had just come out.
The gift was free.
I didn’t really deserve the gift.
As a son as was at best mediocre.
I didn’t always get good grades, I didn’t always come in on time for curfew, I didn’t always do what was expected of me, or even what I was taught was right.
However, my parents gave me this stereo anyway.
The only question was how I would treat it, and what I would do with it.
I treated it with great care.
I honored it and treasured it.
I really liked that stereo.
I used it all the time.
The same is true of our faith in God.
It is a gift.
We have done nothing to earn it.
In fact, at times we really try to mess it up.
Yet, God invites us anyway.
What will we do with it?
How will we dress for the banquet feast?

Today Paul gives us some ideas.
“Rejoice in the Lord always!”
I hope that all of you take time in your day, in your life to rejoice in what God has done for you.
Sometimes we can get caught up in all the things we don’t have, instead of looking at all the ways God has blessed our lives.
Even in the worse of circumstances I bet there are ways that God is blessing your life.
Paul even though he was in prison rejoiced in what the Lord had done for him.
I hope today for Allison that she knows how much God loves her, and how much God has done for her so that in all the times of her life both good and bad she can learn to rejoice in the Lord.

“Let your gentleness be known to everyone.”
Living a life in Christ means learning everyday how to love and forgive more.
It means learning to be less judgmental of others, and showing mercy and grace to all those we encounter.
In Baptism we take on the righteousness of Christ and learn how to live more fully into it.
I hope for Allison she learns to be gentle to herself and others.
Always willing to forgive others as she knows that she is forgiven.

“Do not worry about anything”
What a blessing to not have to worry.
We are told in Psalm 23 of God’s care and concern for us.
We are reminded of this again and again.
And yet so much of our time is spent worrying about things that will never happen or things that we can’t control.
To live a life of faith is to put all of our life into God’s hands.
I hope today for Allison that she learns to put her life into God’s hands so that she will not worry about anything.

“But in everything by prayer and supplication make your requests be known to God.”
Prayer is our constant communication with God.
It allows us to complain, to unload our burdens, to ask for our needs and the needs of our loved ones.
Prayer is what helps to settle our often disjointed soul.
Prayer is what helps us stay connected to God and his love for us.
In prayers we hand over the burdens of our lives to God and in doing that find a peace.
I hope today that Allison finds the peace that is beyond understanding.

These things are not meant to be rules.
They are meant to be a blessing.
In this life that is so complicated and often out of our control it feels good to be able to rely on God.
The Gospel from this morning can be seen as a harsh judgment.
Surely no one wants to be cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But let me suggest that when we fail to hear the gracious invitation to the wedding banquet, when we fail to keep our relationship with God going, then we are already in the outer darkness.
Our lives are not as rich, are not as peaceful, and are not as whole as they can be with God at the wedding banquet.
Jesus sometimes uses harsh language to describe what it means to be away from God not because he wants us to be in the outer darkness, but because that is the truth.

I hope for all of you today that you count your blessings.
That you give thanks to God that God invited you to be part of the wedding feast.
I pray that we may spend no time in the outer darkness.
Because we have taken time to prepare ourselves for the joy of the wedding banquet.

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