|First Sunday in Advent, Year B||December 3, 2017||First Sunday of Advent, Year B||Mark 13:24-37|
|Christ the King, Year A||November 26, 2017||Christ the King Year A||Matthew 25:31-46|
|Thanksgiving, Year A||November 22, 2017||Thanksgiving, Year A||Psalm 65|
|Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||November 19, 2017||Proper 24, Year A||Matthew 25:36-37|
|Twenty Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||November 12, 2017||Proper 27, Year A||Matthew 25:1-13|
|All Saints, Year A||November 5, 2017||All Saints’ Day, Year A||Matthew 5:1-12|
|Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 29, 2017||Proper 25, Year A||Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18; Matthew 22:34-46|
|Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 22, 2017||Proper 24, Year A||Isaiah 45:1-7, Psalm 96, I Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22|
|➤Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 15, 2017||Proper 23, Year A||Isaiah 25:1-9, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14|
|Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 8, 2017||Proper 22, Year A||Isaiah 5:1-7, Matthew 21:33-46|
|The Season of Creation, Week 5, Year A||October 1, 2017||The Season of Creation, Week 5, Year A||Matthew 6:25-33|
|The Season of Creation, Week 4, Year A||September 24, 2017||The Season of Creation, Week 4, Year A||Leviticus 25:1-7, Hebrews 4:1-11, John 6:1-15|
|The Season of Creation, Week 3, Year A||September 17, 2017||The Season of Creation, Year A, Week 3||Deuteronomy 28:1-14, Psalm 65, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Matthew 6:19-24|
|The Season of Creation, Week 2, Year A||September 10, 2017||The Season of Creation, Year A, Week 2||Job 38:1-18, Psalm 139, Romans 1:18-25, Matthew 5:13-16|
|The Season of Creation, Week 1, Year A||September 3, 2017||Season of Creation 1, Year A||Job 37:14-24,Psalm 130,Revelation 4,Matthew 8:23-27|
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A
Sermon Date:October 15, 2017
Scripture: Isaiah 25:1-9, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 23, Year A
"Wedding Dance in a Barn" – Pieter Brueghel The Younger (1564-1636)
Not long ago, we got an invitation in the mail.
Our only niece on Ben’s side of the family is getting married.
So I got out my calendar and looked at the date and my heart sank.
Virginia and David are getting married on the Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend—in Philadelphia.
And so Ben and I talked about what to do—I’d have to ask for anothr Sunday off, since there would be no way to get home for church in any condition to lead a service.
And we’ll have to travel on Thanksgiving weekend, the worst travel weekend of the year, up the Northeastern Corridor, with the worst traffic in the nation.
And we’ll have to miss going to North Carolina to be with my elderly parents and my side of the family for Thanksgiving.
But there it lay before us, the invitation to a wedding and the banquet to follow.
So at last, we said yes, and we plan to make the journey.
Unfortunately, wedding garments are not being provided by the host for the wedding banquet.
So I’ve gotten Ben’s suit dry cleaned, and I’ll be checking his shoes to make sure he hasn’t worn his current pair out, and I’ll try to come up with something more festive than my usual clerical garb to wear to this joyous occasion.
What if we’d said no?
I doubt that Ben’s brother, the father of the bride, would have sent messengers to kill us and to burn down Fredericksburg, or even issued our unaccepted invitation to someone else, as the king does in today’s gospel.
But if we had decided not to go, we would miss one of the most joyful events of our niece’s life, her wedding.
We would miss the wedding banquet and the rare chance to gather round the table with this part of our family.
Jesus was known for accepting invitations to banquets. In fact, he performed his first miracle, changing water into wine, at a wedding banquet in Cana.
Scripture tells us that Jesus spent time at the table with all sorts of people, sharing meals with his friends, the Pharisees, with outcasts and with sinners. On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus was even brazen enough to invite himself to dinner at the home of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector who was rich and despised by the citizens of Jericho.
And Jesus spread the table—for the thousands who had followed him out into the wilderness and were harassed and helpless and hungry, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus didn’t ask them if they deserved to be there. He simply fed them because they were hungry.
In doing so, he was following the example of God, his Father, who in today’s Old Testament reading prepares a feast on Mt Zion, not just for God’s chosen people, but for all people and for all nations.
And Jesus also follows the example of his Father, the shepherd, when Jesus spreads the table at the Passover for his unlikely bunch of disciples, including several fishermen and a tax collector.
In this intimate setting in the upper room, Jesus spreads the table and shares a meal with his disciples, knowing that his enemies are close at hand, and yet his cup is running over. He is with those who are closest to him, and his goodness and mercy pour out as they share the bread, which he tells them is his body, and the wine, which he tells them is his blood. What could be more intimate than that—sharing with one another the physical essence of love. Jesus even puts on an apron and washes their feet, an intimate and loving act of service.
Only one of the disciples, Judas, is not wearing that metaphorical wedding robe, like the man in today’s gospel who gets cast into the outer darkness.
But Jesus doesn’t cast Judas out.
Judas chooses to cast himself out, leaving the table to betray Jesus to the authorities. And Jesus lets him go.
From the beginning, God has spread a table for all of us, all nations—at creation, laying out the earth, the green plants and the fruit trees, and every living thing, so that we human beings could, with care, always have all we need to spread our own tables, knowing that the gifts we share come from the abundant table God laid at creation.
And God not only prepares banquets, but sets the everyday table for us as well. God leads us, the sheep, to green pastures and to still waters. God does not desert us, the sheep, even when we must pass through the narrow and confining places in our lives, those places that threaten to squeeze the life out of us.
So no wonder Jesus was all about spreading the table as well in his time on this earth, because in doing so, he was following the example of God, his Father.
In this place and time we are blessed to have the opportunity when we worship together to come to the table that Jesus has spread for us, the people of God.
And as Father Jeff Packard points out in the April 2017 edition of The Chronicler, the Christ Church Spotsylvania newsletter, Jesus invites us to this table “not only to call to mind his life, his teaching, and his sacrifice, but to continue living our lives in a way that keeps his memory alive and honors all for which he lived and died.”
The most wonderful thing about coming to the table that Jesus has spread for us is that we become what we eat.
Over time, we can’t help but rejoice in the Lord always, because we know in our inmost beings that the Lord is near and ready to provide all that we need.
And this God given joy on our parts brings the Lord to life out in the world as well.
And here’s more good news!
God’s table is set not just here at church, but God’s table is set anywhere and any time, any time that we gather with others, and share out of love and gratitude, remembering that God is present, in our midst, remembering that God is the one who has given us all we need to set the table for others.
We all know that God’s generosity is limitless.
And in yet another act of generosity, not only does God set the table, but God also provides the wedding robes that we are to wear as Christians out in the world.
This God given clothing cannot be bought, or even made. Our wedding robes are God’s gift to us, because God loves us so much. These wedding garments are the robes that we grow into, over a lifetime.
Thanksgiving, joy, forgiveness, forbearance and peace are the threads God knits together for our wedding garments. To put these robes on, we have to take off the soiled, everyday clothes that we tend to wear. But once we put our wedding garments on, and wear them with joy, they become as intimate to us as our own skin, a part of who we are, and we can’t imagine wearing anything else.
God is near.
God has set the table and has woven each one of us a wedding robe.
God has issued each one of us a personal invitation to an ongoing wedding banquet of praise and thanksgiving and everlasting joy.
The timing of the invitation to God’s banquet may seem inconvenient, and sacrifices will have to be made to accept the invitation,
But just go on and say yes!
Put on that shimmering wedding garment that God has woven just for you.
And come to God’s table—with joy.