10-11-20 Sermon

Matthew 22:1-14

Dear Heavenly Father, You sent Your Son into our world to reveal Your will for our lives and to redeem us from sin and death. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to embrace Jesus in faith, and acknowledge him as our LORD and Savior. Above all, please guide us in our lives, as we struggle to live with the tension of belonging to two kingdoms. This we ask in CHRIST’s holy name. Amen.

On the surface this is a very gloomy gospel. Jesus sees Calvary looming before Him. He knows that the rich and powerful are plotting against Him. But unlike us, He never wavers. Over and over He pounds home his message: Repent and embrace the kingdom of God or face the consequences. There’s nothing sweet or soothing here. Our loving Savior is saying: Put up or shut up. Turn away from sin and come to my feast. The choice is yours.

This gospel lesson is full of some very hard edges… invitation and ingratitude, rejection and retribution. It’s a four-alarm wake up call. No more is Jesus punctuating His teachings with crowd-pleasing miracles.

In the words of Peter Dunne, CHRIST has come to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. He’s asking us: Which side are you on? There’s no middle ground here. Each and every day of our lives confronts us with the same challenge:

>We are invited to live God’s kingdom.

>We are asked to shed the rags of sin and put on the wedding garment of grace.

>Jesus is calling us to come to his feast.

>God’s love is there for the taking…but not to be taken for granted.

In this and in every gospel reading, Jesus speaks to his immediate audience, but he also speaks directly to us. For those in Jerusalem who heard and rejected His words, the destruction of the temple and the wrath of God were just over the horizon. For those of us who read and accept His word, a life in CHRIST will be followed by an eternity of joy.

From beyond the beginning of time, God has known and loved us. The Father created us to be happy with Him.

He preserved His chosen people to pass on His commandments.

He sent His Son to die for our salvation.

He established His church to teach us and to nurture our faith.

All of this was done to prepare us for the wedding banquet. His invitation is extended to us every day of our lives. We are invited to a new way of living… to rejoice in the LORD; to love and serve God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Every day the choice is ours… eternal feast or endless famine. Will you be at the feast or will you stay in the stupor of your sin? The evil one wants us to be preoccupied with unimportant details that lead nowhere. The evil one uses our pride as a stumbling block to the good life in CHRIST.

You'd think that this decision would be the original “no-brainer.” But how often we get it wrong. We are so focused on getting and holding, wanting and consuming… that we ignore the invitation placed before us. We are so self-absorbed that we don’t hear CHRIST’s constant invitation to come to the banquet. Sometimes we get it right. But only too often, we forget that we live in a blink of eternity. The days of our own physical temple are numbered. The days of the wedding feast are endless.

This gospel is a reminder that our generous God wants us to be with Him…He is a loving and merciful God. He doesn’t give up on us, even when we have given up on Him. He doesn’t stop calling when we have stopped listening. He knows our failings and our foolishness. Yet every day--again and again He invites us to the feast of victory.

So let’s all accept the King’s invitation. Let’s put on CHRIST… The old sinful rags have to come off and the new wedding garment of CHRIST’s holiness and righteousness put on.

Clothing is a common New Testament metaphor for spiritual change. Paul wrote in Romans 13:14, “Put on the LORD Jesus CHRIST, and make no provision for the flesh, for it lusts”.

In Colossians 3:12, we read, “Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance.”

We have all received the wedding garment we need in Holy Baptism. Let’s be sure to RSVP that we are coming to the feast.

Heavenly Father, we come with joy to taste and see Your goodness, to celebrate Your grace and mercy in our lives. With thankful and open hearts, we accept Your amazing invitation, In Jesus name, amen.

 
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