Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Sermon: Wednesday of Trinity 20 – 2015

7 October 2015

Text: Matt 22:1-14 (Isa 5:1-9, Eph 5:15-21)

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

God invites all of mankind to a feast, and our sinful flesh thinks we have better things to do.  There are other feasts: parties, festivals, sports events, rest and relaxation, flashing screens and shiny things, or even just staying in bed.

Why does our sinful flesh behave this way? 

One would think that free food would entice us, or perhaps the opportunity to be near the king.  Of course, if nothing else there is a political advantage, and the opportunity to be seen.  Even in the world, if the boss throws a party, we are wise enough to attend, or at least put in an appearance.

Indeed, the invitation should get our attention: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price…. Delight yourselves in rich food.”

It sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime, or even of eternity.  God Himself is offering to throw an eternal and magnificent banquet, and admits us to the head table.  And in the case of this banquet, it includes a complete pardon of every sin we have ever committed in this life; it includes citizenship in the kingdom of God and fellowship with God Himself.

And yet, the excuses for not showing up are legion.  They are also weak and unconvincing.  For the real reason people turn down the offer is that they think they can hold the ticket in their back pockets and use it any time.  Meanwhile, there is fun to be had and a self to serve.  For in the minds of the sinful flesh, wisdom can wait.  Now is the time to walk unwisely, “because the days are evil.”  There is time to be foolish, to “get drunk with wine” and “debauchery” or with any number of hobbies and diversions from God’s gracious invitation.  For there will always be time later for “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” and “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  I am baptized, and therefore, I can repent later, so says the sinful flesh.

The prophet Isaiah warns us: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

For the sinful flesh ignores the invitation. It refuses to come to be where the Lord invites us to be.  The sinful flesh focuses upon the self instead of the Savior, paying mind to the clock instead of the cross.  The sinful flesh is even capable of murdering the prophets and treating the king’s messengers shamefully.

And to those who refuse to repent, the King becomes angry.  He eventually revokes the invitation and sends forth the Spirit to call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify others into His holy Christian Church, those who participate in the wedding feast of the Son through all eternity.  God calls others instead of those who continue to harden their hearts.  Some of the refuseniks even become violent: murdering the prophets, shooting up schools and churches, mangling the institution of marriage, killing children and planning the profits of the sale of their yet beating hearts over glasses of wine.

The Lord sends His servants to the main roads, gathering in those who repent, who heed the call of the Gospel, those who are baptized and saved and participating in the pardoning feast of the Lord’s Supper, hearing the prophetic word, and enjoying a seat at the head table with the Lamb and the Ancient of Days and the Spirit, reigning with them unto all eternity.

And so here we are, dear friends.  It may not look to the eyes like a grand banquet hall, but that is exactly what it is.  It is a sanctuary, an embassy of heaven.  We gather here around a bowl of water, a lectern, a pulpit, and a table with wafers of bread and a cup of wine that we share.  It is not course after course of decadent and expensive foods, and yet it is the richest meal in history: the body of Christ.  It is not the most expensive and exclusive of drinks, but it is the choicest of all in the universe, for it is the blood of Christ.

The banquet starts here, but it never ends.  It begins in time, but will continue into eternity.  To the eyes of the world it looks like a pathetic affair: a handful of people with aches and pains and ailments hobbling to a wooden rail to be hand-fed a tiny piece of bread and poured a sip of wine by a guy in what looks like robes.  Some words are said.  An old book is read. 

But what a banquet this is, dear friends!  For God Almighty, the Creator and King of the universe, is here with us physically and intimately in space and time, joining us at this table, which by His presence, becomes the head table, the Holy of Holies, the divine throne.  He declares us forgiven and worthy by the cross and the empty tomb, to be regarded as righteous and able to sit with God at a never-ending feast.  He fills us with food that always satisfies, and drink that always slakes.  He transforms us by His mighty Word and by His ever-present transformative Spirit.  He packs His banquet hall even with the likes of us, “both bad and good,” forgiven sinners, redeemed saints, men, women, and children from every walk of life.

And for us men and for our salvation, He has prepared His dinner, dear friends.  The Lamb Himself has been slaughtered, and He is risen!  The bread of life has come down from heaven.  His flesh is bread for the life of the world.  By His Word, we are made alive.  By His stripes we are healed.  By His cross we are reconciled.

And though His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor our ways His ways, and though the heavens are higher than the earth, and though His ways and thoughts exceed ours, He has nevertheless filled His heavenly banquet hall with us, dear friends, with each one of us, with believers of every time and place, with angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven.  

We are at this banquet because we have been invited.  We wear the baptismal garment.  We have been called.  We have been chosen.  And this is why, dear friends, we can receive this admonition from St. Paul with joy: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Our sinful flesh has been crucified with Christ.  We have been invited, the bad and the good, we are clothed with the wedding garment, we are here to buy and eat, without money and without price.  Welcome to the feast, dear brothers and sisters, now and even unto eternity! Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


William Gleason said...

Pastor, where did that picture come from? At closer inspection it has some strange imagery.

Pastor Gleason

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Just a Google Image Search on "Feast" I believe.