MAY THE WORDS OF MY LIPS AND THE MEDITATION OF OUR HEARTS BE ALWAYS ACCEPTABLE IN THY SIGHT
OH LORD OUR STRENGH AND OUR REDEEMER
Decisions and Consequences
"For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper." (St. Luke xiv: 24)
For those who have never read and studied the bible today’s Gospel may be nothing more than a story about someone who planned an party only to have the invited guests not show up and the hosts efforts to find other guest at the last minute. However for those of us who have some knowledge of the New Testament, we know Jesus did not just tell stories for the sake of the story, his stories always had a meaning other than the plainly obvious one. The Banquet parable we heard today from St. Luke’s Gospel is no different.
The Jews had a picture of what it was going to be like when God came into the world to save his people. One of these pictures was that of the Messianic banquet. On that day God would give a great feast to his chosen people, the Jews. The average orthodox Jew would never have dreamed that Gentiles and sinners would find a place at the feast of God.
In Palestine, when anyone made a feast, the day was announced long beforehand and the invitations were sent out and accepted; but the exact time was not announced; and when the day came and the feast was ready, servants were sent out to summon the already invited guests. To accept the invitation beforehand and then refuse it when the day came was a grave insult.
In the Banquet Parable the man who was hosting the banquet represents God. The originally invited guests are the Jews. And although the Jews had looked forward to the day God came when he did they refused to accept him, the banquet he offered, Jesus and everlasting life. The poor people from the streets and lanes are the tax-gathers and sinners who welcomed Jesus in a way the orthodox Jews never did. Those gathered in from the roads and hedges are the Gentiles for whom there was still ample room at the feast of God. When the Jews refused God’s invitation and left his table empty, the invitation went out to the Gentiles and they accepted it in great numbers.
In the parable the invited guests made their excuses, and people’s excuses today do not differ much from the excuses of the Jews in Jesus time. The first man said he had bought a field and was going to see it. He placed his business ahead of God on his list of priorities. Many people are so immersed in things of this world, business, sports, hobbies and such that they claim that they do not have time to worship, and even no time to pray. The second man said he bought five yoke of oxen and that he was going to try them out. He let novelty usurp Christ. It often happens that when people have new possessions they become so taken up with them that everything else is put aside. It is so easy for a new game, a new hobby, even a new friendship, to take up time that should be kept for God. And the third man said he had married a wife and could not come. One of the Jewish laws of the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 24:5 says “when a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.” In all probability the man had this law on his mind when he refused to come to the feast. But he used it selfishly to avoid going to the feast. It is one of the tragedies of life when we let our own self interest’s crowd out God’s time in our lives.
I am sure all of us know people who are just like one of the three men in the parable. And we ourselves may have “been there and done that”. It is hard to juggle the competing demands of this life, to schedule everything into the limited time we have so that nothing gets missed. But is it really all that hard to give God a few minutes a day in prayer and an hour or two a week to be part of his family, worshiping together, asking for his forgiveness and his blessing. Those who live best together live with God, they serve each other and also serve their neighbours and they remember that they are members of the greater family, the household of God.
We as Anglican’s subscribe to the thirty nine Articles of Religion found in the back of the Book of Common Prayer. Article 19 on page 606 states “The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men (men meaning mankind, males and females), in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance,” Simply stated we are expected as a congregation to listen to the Word of God and receive the sacraments. And it is our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto our Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God. To do this we must come to the banquet our Lord has prepared for us. We cannot let things of this world, business, sports or hobbies keep us from the banquet. We cannot allow ourselves to be so taken up with new possessions, games and friendships that we put everything else aside including our time with God. We cannot let our own self interests’ crowd out God’s time in our lives. I hear people say that they are spiritual but they just don’t have time to go to Church and they don’t think they need to in order to be a Christian. Jesus tells us straight up what the consequence will be "For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper." The promise of everlasting life in the kingdom of God will not be theirs. Let us pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, thou good Shepherd of the sheep, who came to seek and to save that which was lost: We beseech thee to be present in thy power with this Mission of thy Church. Show forth thy compassion to the helpless, enlighten the ignorant, succour those in peril, and bring home the wanderers in safety to thy fold; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
And now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost be ascribed all might, majesty, power and dominion as is most justly due this day; world without end. AMEN