This story is, of course, absurd. Who, invited to the wedding party for the king’s son…says no. Who, invited to the party at the palace, a fabulous celebration…decides they have better things to do? Whose response to a joyous night of dancing and food is to kill the person with the invitation?
It’s absurd. All of us know very well, from Cinderella, that everyone is anxious to go to the king’s ball. Everyone knows, an invitation to Buckingham palace is a score, even for celebrities, and not likely to be ignored. Who doesn’t go to the party? That’s just nuts, right?
So…what’s Jesus getting at here? What’s this about?
Well, he’s talking again about what the kingdom of heaven looks like…you know…what it looks like when God’s kingdom comes and God’s will is done on earth as in heaven. And this time…it’s like a party. When God’s will is done, it’s like God’s throwing a huge celebration, a wedding celebration, a celebration of God’s son, a celebration of love. And he invites all the people who claim to be his friends to come….but then….they say no. They’ve got better things to do than party with God. They do not want to go.
Why? Why wouldn’t they want to go to a party? It doesn’t make sense.
I’ve got some pictures…of celebrations. Parties. Just look at them for a minute. And listen to your own heart. Your own gut. Which ones do you want to go to? Which invitations would you be tempted to turn down? Because maybe you wouldn’t feel comfortable? Or you wouldn’t fit it? We have a powwow – a biker bar — a maori celebration — a Mexican fiesta — a wedding – goth youth — a bar mitzvah – a quinceanera – a gathering at the nursing home – a rodeo – a mayday festival – a super bowl party for the homeless — Oktoberfest – a pride celebration – an African drum circle – a party for the differently abled – Mardi gras? I’m guessing some of you might feel more drawn to some of those parties more than others.
Jesus, in telling this parable, is saying to the religious folks — “I’m here…God’s own son…and the party is now.” God is here in your midst…love incarnate. And it’s love for all…love for the lost. Love for the least. Love for the meek and maligned. Love for the gentile and the sinner — for the outsider and the outcast. And the religious folks’ response is…Um.no. No, I’m not going to go to THAT party, Jesus. Those people do not belong. Maybe if they change their ways…maybe if they acted more like us or dressed more like us. But otherwise…no. No samaritans. No women. No tax collectors. No lepers. Just no. We’ve got business to do. Important business. Religious business. Serious business. This is no time to party with those kind of people.
And the kingdom of heaven, Jesus says.. is just like this. The kingdom of heaven is like God throwing a fabulous celebration….and the people who claim to be his friends are not impressed….because obviously God should be doing more important things. And hanging out with more important people. And they are angry….so angry, in fact, they kill the people who are sent to invite them. They kill the people who are inviting them to party instead of work. They kill the people who invite them to celebrate love instead of fostering hate.
So…How many religious communities..do you think… have built their credentials on how serious they are…How devout… How rigorous in their religious practice…How right they are,,, How righteous and pure? How many religious people have their mark of distinction as who they won’t party with?
And nothing misses the point more. In fact…it turns out the so called friends of the king — i.e.,all those religious people — miss the kingdom of heaven altogether. And the good and the bad and the riff raff who supposedly aren’t God’s friends are the very ones who end up at God’s party.
Friends….God wants to celebrate. Celebrate life. And love. And creation. And people of all stripes and cultures in their glorious diversity. Jesus comes for a wedding banquet, a feast of joy. And when we think we’re too good. When we think there are folks who don’t belong. When we choose not to go to the party because we’re sure those other folks aren’t what God intended…or they make us uncomfortable…we’re the ones who end up in the dark. We’re the ones who end up gnashing our teeth, while God is celebrating with God’s beloveds.
Dear friends, let’s not be afraid of joy. Let’s not be afraid of the people God loves. Let’s not be afraid to go to the party and put on our garments to celebrate. Let’s put on our baptism robes…that’s our party finery…that’s what Jesus wants us to wear — identifying us only as God’s children, nothing more. And let’s trust in Gods’ promise of grace and redemption. Let’s trust God’s claim that all creation pulses with the music of God’s glorious wonder. And just dance with one another. Celebrate one another. Love one another. And together let us share in God’s feast of love. Bread and wine…the presence of Jesus. Here. Now. The party has started. Come. You …the lost and the least, the meek and maligned, gentiles and sinners, outsiders and outcast…you are invited. Come to God’s banquet of love. Amen.
Leave a Reply