Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Sermon June 14, 2015 2nd Sunday after Trinity

I cannot come to the banquet, I cannot come to the banquet,
don't trouble me now.
I have married a wife; I have bought me a cow.
I have fields and commitments that cost a pretty sum.
Pray, hold me excused, I cannot come.

Do you remember that song?  It was very popular in the 1960’s when it was performed by the Medical Mission Sisters. Both the singers and the song were surprisingly quite popular in the 1960’s.  Their big hit, Joy is Like the Rain, won a Grammy.  Perhaps we will have another Spiritual Revival in popular music in the future.  Miracles do happen and God does work in mysterious way.
I Cannot Come to The Banquet is based on the parable in the Gospel of Luke which is the Gospel appointed for today—the second Sunday after Trinity.  It is the story of a man who holds a great feast—a banquet and sends his servant to invite all the people he knows to come to the feast.  It turns out that each person he has invited has an excuse why he cannot come to the banquet.  The excuses are well explained in the chorus of the song; one bought a field, another has bought some oxen, another has married a wife.  They all ask to be excused from attending the feast.  Well on hearing that no one on his guest list can attend what does the founder of the feast do? 

His reaction is quite understandable at first.  He gets angry.  Here he has gone to all this trouble and prepared a feast and no one wants to come and share the celebration with him.  I’m sure all of us would feel the same way.  We could say at least they did send their regrets and just not show up.  However, rather than getting into a snit what does he do?  Rather than giving up he send his servant out and invites all the people who would not normally be included in—the poor, the halt, and the lame.  He wants his house to be filled with those that will appreciate the value of what he is offering.
The meaning of this parable seems clear to us reading it.  It is easier to understand than some of Jesus’ parables.  God offers a banquet to us.  As Christians we are people who will be invited to God’s banquet that is prepared for us in God’s kingdom.  However, many of us who are invited to God’s feast with all the wonderful food and drink that will feed our souls, will decide we have better things to do than attend the Great Feast.   The excuses given by the invited guest all sound reasonable to our ears.  I have business to take care of—my job is very high powered and I can’t spare the time for a dinner party.  I have land and animals to care for that require all my care.  And the best one of all—I have just gotten married and my wife and I are leaving on our honeymoon.  They are all quite reasonable from our perspective.  I can’t find the time to go to church on Sunday.  There are not enough hours in the day to read my bible or set time aside to pray and meditate and be in conversation with God and I don’t.  I am basically retired and have the intention of doing these things and sometimes I don’t find time to do things I know I should.  Have the time or inclination to help others in need like the Good Samaritan  We don’t live as if we know that our sins—those things which separate us from the love of God are forgiven by the sacrifice of our Saviour and Redeemer.  We do not live in the blessing of being loved by God unconditionally.   We do not live in the knowledge that we have been invited to the Great Feast. 

Well as I note, the message Jesus has for us is very clear.  If we don’t partake of the Great Feast that is offered to us in this life we will never partake in it.  The Passage ends, “For I say unto you, that none of those men (and I’m sure he would include woman today) which were bidden shall taste of my supper”.   A bitter lesson indeed.
That is the usual understanding of the parable.  I believe that it is perfectly valid and true.  However, I want to look at another way of understanding the lesson that Jesus is giving us.  What if we look at this from an inner perspective?  What is God offering to us about ourselves—about who we are created by God to be?  We have those parts of ourselves which are good and upright and live a life that is acceptable to us and to society.  We go about doing the things that we need to do in our lives—things which are right and good and necessary for us to do.  We take care of business—day to day life.  My wife Lorna and I have been getting settled into to cottage—getting the internet hooked up, dealing with broken parts of the well, trying to catch a squirrel in our crawl space, getting apple trees to plant, dealing with an issue with our neighbour—all ordinary day to day stuff that life involves .  We aren’t on our honeymoon by a long shot but perhaps we are still in our honeymoon phase of life in the cottage.  Have we forgotten to partake in the Great Feast that Jesus offers? 
What then of the guests that the master invites when we don’t partake—the poor street people, the halt, the lame, the outcasts and people we wouldn’t dream of inviting to our banquets?  What about the parts of ourselves that are the aspects of ourselves that we don’t find acceptable —the street people within us?  We can look at those people invited instead of us as aspect of ourselves that we don’t find acceptable—those parts of ourselves that we don’t like and don’t even want to acknowledge. 

Those parts of ourselves that we don’t want to acknowledge are part of who we are.  They are also invited to the Great Feast as the parable tells us.  If we are going to attend the Great Feast those parts are going to attend as well.  We have to acknowledge them to God if we are to attend.  Otherwise we will not be included in the Great Feast of life that God has given us.  Take a few moments to think an aspect of yourself that you would not want to invite to a party.   What would it be like to welcome that part of yourself to a party that Jesus is throwing?  What if Jesus welcomed that part and made him or her as the guest of honour.  How would you feel about that?  That is the part of you that Jesus truly wants at the party.  If we will acknowledge them and offer them to God we will be invited to partake in the Great Feast that Jesus offers us—acceptable parts and unacceptable parts.  Thanks be to God.  Amen 

No comments:

Post a Comment