Trinity News and Sermons

10/12/14 Sermon Bullets

  • Mealtimes are sacred times. Whether we are aware of it or not, God is present in every meal we share.
  • All through the bible we read about the importance of breaking bread with others – and God’s presence in the midst of it: the Passover Meal before the victorious Exodus from Egypt, Manna given to the children in the Wilderness, Elijah and the Widow and her son with the little bit of meal and oil – that lasted for days, Jesus at the Wedding banquet of Cana of the Galilee, the Last Supper with Jesus and his closest companions, the Resurrection appearance of the Road to Emmaus – where the followers of Jesus recognize him at the END of that story – in the Breaking of the Bread, Peter’s vision of the “unclean” food and being told “what God provides is not unclean; thus go to the Gentiles and speak the Good News about Jesus”.
  • Mealtimes are sacred times today, here at Trinity. We refer to Fellowship time as the “third sacrament” for us – an opportunity to gather and share: food from our homes or the local restaurants, and our time and company; Community Supper – especially now with all our guests, both from Westway and the community- this is growing; Brunch at Michael’s with Pastor Paul or meals we share with each other in our apartments or the numerous restaurants: did you know we are getting a Korean restaurant on Broadway?, campfire and snack time at our Congregational retreat; pizza ordered by John Simmons for the Men’s group poker night; Wine & Cheese for great conversation. Even tonight, our Latino Trinity family members and other guests will enjoy “once”, a traditional Chilean gathering for great conversation and much food.
  • Today we have two lessons that focus on meals – the great banquet at the end of times, in the lesson from Isaiah, and this parable from Matthew about a wedding banquet.
  • Let’s look at Matthew’s story first.
  • Many enjoy going to wedding banquets, and one for the son of the king should be rather spectacular – but for some reason, those invited had other priorities. The king invites his guests twice, and ultimately the messengers are mistreated and killed by the guests. Coming on the heels of last week’s lesson, we can sense that Matthew is continuing his commentary on how God’s servants, the prophets have been treated over the years – God invites the children to a banquet, and not only do they not attend, they mistreat and kill the servants bringing the invitation.
  • The king becomes so enraged that he has the wedding guests killed and burns their city to the ground. So much for the joy of the wedding! So others are invited to come – from the highways to the byways (according to another version) but here in Matthew, Main Street – EVERYONE YOU FIND THERE IS TO BE INVITED TO COME. Sounds great. Kind of like the Trinity theme: All Are Welcome.
  • So far so good. But then, a twist that is troubling. Someone that came to the banquet from the main street is there enjoying himself, and when the king comes in he finds the man is not properly dressed. “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” The man is speechless. OF COURSE HE IS SPEECHLESS – he was not expecting to go to a wedding that day, he just came when asked.
  • The king orders him thrown out – not just out of the banquet but bound “hand and foot and thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” – one of Matthew’s favorite phrases for the judgment. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT???
  • And remember, this parable begins with the words, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to . . .” Certainly doesn’t sound like the loving and accepting Jesus we see in other places in the Bible. All are Welcome? Yes, but you better be dressed correctly!
  • I have to confess to you that I wrestled greatly with this passage during the week. And I consulted writings and commentary from many. Here is what I have found and concluded:
  • This parable is a story – not a speaking of reality – and should be understood in its complexity with many layers. Matthew – or the school of Matthew placed this story in his gospel, most likely AFTER the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This does not mean that Jesus did not include the bit about destroying the city in his original parable, but that the READERS of this story would have the destruction of Jerusalem near in their minds when reading this.
  • Additionally, the conflict between Jewish Christians and Jewish people of faith may well be implied. BOTH thought they were following the revelation from God – through Torah or through Jesus; both thought they were FAITHFUL. This caused conflict and, should some historians be believed, the destruction of Jerusalem, preceded by a great famine, was blamed upon the Christians who “had twisted the Jewish understanding, naming Jesus of Nazareth as the long awaited Messiah”. Conversely, Christians may have interpreted the destruction of Jerusalem “as punishment for rejecting the NEW THING that God was doing in Jesus”.
  • Following again on last week’s parable – once again the children have rejected the messenger of God, this time his only Son as inviting them to the banquet. So others are invited to the party.
  • And they come. One, as stated before, is not dressed properly. Commentators have stated that this might be a reference to the fact that, when, even unworthy as we are, we are invited the king’s banquet – we are called to come with an attitude of gratitude and joy. As Lance Pape of Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth Texas states:
    • Within the world of the story as told, the problem with this guy is not that he is not taking things seriously enough. No, his problem is a failure to party. The kingdom of heaven is a banquet after all, and you’ve got to put on your party dress and get with the program. The kingdom music is playing, and it’s time to get up on the dance floor. Or, as the slightly more sober, but not less theologically astute Barth put the matter: ‘In the last resort, it all boils down to the fact that the invitation is to a feast, and that the one who does not obey and come accordingly, and therefore festively, declines and spurns the invitation no less than those who are unwilling to obey and appear at all.’
  • In our first lesson from Isaiah, we see that God sets a banquet of great and rich foods and wines for us to enjoy: a place where he swallows up death forever, and wipes away all tears. This is a passage that is read quite often at funeral services.
  • Putting these two lessons together, we see that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a banquet, a wedding banquet for the Son of the King – the Son Jesus. And it is the grandest banquet ever prepared: where we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death forever – where sorrow and pain and regrets have no place. It is a grand celebration of life – on this earth and forevermore!
  • Given that THIS is the kind of banquet to which we, those on the highways and byways and Main Street are invited, we are called to put on our festive garments of celebration – ready to rejoice.
  • All of this can perhaps best be summed up in a scene from the movie Auntie Mame. Mame, who lives life with all its relish, is encouraging Agnes Gooch, her assistant to get out of the apartment and experience life to the fullest. She says, “What you have to do is LIVE, LIVE LIVE. Agnes, Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”
  • The Holy Communion we celebrate today is a foretaste of the Great Wedding Banquet. We are called to live into the celebration, lifting the cup of salvation for all to drink!
  • PAUSE
  • So what happens if this week you are not quite ready to celebrate? The insert today from Fr. Ron Rolheiser reminds us that mealtimes are sacred, whether we have “high energy or low energy, when we feel the need for each other and when we want distance from each other.” Families come together for a sacred meal, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT WE DO.
  • If today you don’t feel so festive in this meal, come anyway- because you meet the Living God in this place. And one cannot encounter that life force without being transformed in some way.
  • Come to the banquet – joy-filled and sorrowful. For, ALL ARE WELCOME.