Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, October 21st, Year of Our + Lord 2012
Trinity and St. John Lutheran Churches, Sidney and Fairview, Montana
Come to the Wedding Feast, Matthew 22:1-14
Vicar Jason Toombs
“The King requires the honor of your presence at the wedding feast for His Son” was written on the invitation. The invitations have gone out and the announcement of the wedding feast has been planned. Then comes the waiting for the day to arrive. Time passes slowly at first, then more rapidly as the day approaches. The servants weren’t trying to find all the necessary items for a wedding: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. No, they were preparing the wedding feast. All the items were prepared and the King has said, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”
The servants were sent out with this message from the King. They were sent out to bring “those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.” “But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business.” The invited ones cared more about the things of this world, their farm, their business, their own concerns. They paid no attention to the call of the King’s servants. They paid no attention to the King’s command. “The rest seized His servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.” They killed the servants of the King. Wow, I can’t believe they did that. I bet you can’t either.
They cared more about the cares of this world than about their King. You are no different. You care about the things of this world too. You and I care more about “our time,” thinking that we own time. “Don’t bother me now. Can’t you see that I’m busy. Come back later. I’ll help you then.” We are selfish with time. We only spend time with other people when it’s convenient for us. On the other hand, we can easily spend time doing nothing when we are supposed to be working, when we’re “on the clock.” We cheerfully have a conversation with our coworkers, take a few extra minutes around the water cooler, or take a personal phone call when we should be working. Instead of being selfish with the time that we have on this earth, or wasting time that we should be devoting to working for our boss, we should make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” And it doesn’t end there.
We’re also selfish with our things. Be it our toys, our money, our vehicles, or our bodies. We think that we own these things rather than receiving them as gifts. We confessed earlier, “We pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. What is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, and the like.” We need to realize that we live on borrowed capital from God. These things that we have are not our own, they are God’s good gifts to us. When we have this understanding, it is no wonder the Lord’s Prayer is the daily prayer of the Christian.
And it is not simply a daily prayer. It is the prayer that we should say before going to bed and upon waking up. We should thank God that He has kept us this night from all harm and danger. It is also the prayer that we should pray whenever we receive a meal with thanksgiving. With a thankful heart we should give thanks to God for His good gifts to us, whether we eat a wedding feast, a simple donut, or even the Lord’s Body and Blood.
The ones who were invited not only killed the King’s servants, they also killed the Son. Jesus came to earth to call them to come to the wedding feast, His wedding feast, and instead they handed Him over to be crucified. The Lord of life came to bring life to this fallen world and instead of listening to His message, we killed Him. He came to earth to deliver us from ourselves, our desire for time, and our selfishness. He took all of these things upon Himself and put them to death. And He rose again on the third day to show that death has no power over Him. He died on the cross and rose from the dead for you.
And the King sends out other servants to proclaim His Son’s death and resurrection. He sends pastors to the main roads, the highways, the by-ways, the towns, the countryside, and all places. He sends missionaries throughout the world to proclaim that the wedding feast is ready. He invites both bad and good, all people. This is because we are bad on our own, there is no good in us apart from Christ.
The wedding feast is ready. The meal has been prepared. Christ gave His Body and Blood before He went to the cross for you to eat and to drink. This is the wedding feast that has been prepared for His bride, the church. And you partake of this wedding feast, this small portion of it, when you come to His table. But there is always more with Jesus.
The wedding feast is also prepared in heaven. The heavenly banquet has been laid out and the King is waiting patiently for the guests to arrive. They have been clothed in the wedding garment that He has given to them. They have been clothed in the wedding garment of their baptism. They are clothed with Christ, clothed with the bridegroom Himself. You have put on Christ and are invited with open arms to come in to the wedding feast. The wedding feast is overflowing with the finest of meats and the choicest of wines. Come and eat. Come and drink. See that the Lord is good.
You are the ones who heard the call of Christ and His servants. You hear them say, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters.” You have drank the living water that flowed from the side of Christ. This water bubbles up within you. This is the same baptismal water that covers you. You have come to the living water and been covered and drowned. The living water also raises you to life. It brings you back to life. You were drowned and brought to life by the Risen One. Christ is what you need for this body and life, as He has given you your body and has raised you to life.
You also hear the servants say, “Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” How can you buy without money and price? Only when you realize that this is gift does it make sense. Wine and milk are the good things that God gives. He gives you wine and bread in His meal. This sustains you. He also brings you into the land flowing with milk and honey, He brings you into the holy, promised land. He brings you into heaven where the wedding feast is prepared.
You even hear the servants say, “Eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” The food of the wedding feast is the best food. It is the food that endures forever because it contains the One who endures forever. “Come, taste and see that the Lord is good.” The Lord is the only one who is good. And He has called you good because you are in Him.
On the front cover of our bulletin we see Mary and Martha. Both are doing good things, one busy serving, the other simply listening. We love Martha, we all need Martha. But don’t be too busy with the cares of this world. Don’t always be like Martha, only looking to serve others. Sometimes you need to be like Mary, sitting at the feet of your Lord. Don’t only be concerned with doing good for your neighbor. You can only do good for them when you receive the one who is good. Delight in the fact that He comes to serve you. Sit at His feet and listen to Him. Come to His table and be fed by Him.
Like you, like every Christian, the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League as an organization needs to be fed by the Lord. Only then, renewed by God’s Word of grace, can they usefully serve others. They, and you, are called by Christ to spread His message and His gifts to the ends of the earth. They, and you, are called to do good for their neighbor. And they have helped countless people, organizations, and charities throughout the years. The LWML has been able to do these things for their neighbors, both near and far, because they have been consistently fed by the Lord.
Everything is ready. The wedding feast has been prepared. Come to the wedding feast that God has prepared. Amen.