Monday, October 16, 2017

Last Thoughts on This Past Sunday's Gospel

Yesterday, I preached the sermon at all 3 services.  It was interesting to revisit the Gospel and to try to say something new about it.  For those of you who have already forgotten, the Gospel was the parable in Matthew about the king and the wedding feasts and the guests who are too busy to come.  So the king calls them and invites a brand new set of guests.

So far, so good, right?  But then we get to the verses of Matthew 22:12-14, where the one wedding guest doesn't have a wedding robe, so he too is bound and cast into outer darkness.  The kingdom of Heaven is like this???!!!!

I went through several different interpretations of the parable with the congregation.  I find it troubling to see God as the king in the story, with all the sorting and casting away, but there's a long history of Christians who do.  I also talked about the Gospel as having a subtext that most of us won't understand, this many centuries away.  These aren't just stories to tell us who Jesus was.  In the case of Matthew, the Gospel is written for Christians who are trying to figure out how to integrate all these outsiders into what had been a Jewish offshoot.

For the record, I think the parable is most likely about that integration or failure to integrate.  But I also wanted to play with the parable's potential to shock us.  So I said, "What if God is the wedding guest who doesn't come with the right robe?"

I talked about Jesus not being the Messiah whom the Jews were expecting, for whom they were yearning.  They wanted someone to kick the Romans out of the homeland.  Jesus wasn't that guy.

Then I asked about our own experiences with God.  What if God doesn't come with the wedding gown of the miracle cure, the job we need, and so on?  What if God isn't a Santa Claus God who grants our wishes before we even know we have them?

I talked about God appearing where we least expect to find God, like in a manger, born to Mary and Joseph.  In current times, it would be like being born to a McDonald's worker and someone who drives a truck:  God without a wedding robe.

I ended by reminding the congregation that God invites us out into the darkness, the edges, the places we don't expect to find the Divine.  What will our response be?

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