Saturday, June 13, 2015

Come to the feast. . .

Sermon for Trinity 2 (one year series) preached midweek at Grace Lutheran Church.

There is something rather shocking and and even foreboding about the Gospel's invitation.  That is the fact that people reject it and that rejection has consequences.  It does not matter why they reject the invitation of the Lord but it does matter that they do.  We Christians tend to be kind of defensive here.  They are not necessarily bad people and some of them are friends, neighbors and family members.  They reject the Lord’s invitation and we hope that they have not rejected the Lord.  Such a fine distinction may make us sleep better at night but it is hardly implied in the text.

God invites and people give their regrets, their excuses, and their good reasons why now is not a good time or they have prior engagements or they are interested in other things. But God gets angry and insists that none of those invited shall ever taste His banquet.  Their place will be take by others.  It sounds so harsh.  We want to apologize for God but God will have none of it.  There are two kinds of people.  Those who pray “Thy will be done” and those whom God will allow to suffer the consequences of their own wills being done.  At least that is how CS Lewis put it.

To refuse to love the light is to love the darkness.  To reject God’s invitation is to reject Him and all His kingdom.  That is the hard side of the truth and it must be said in order to speak faithfully God’s truth.  Our hearts go out to those who have no time for God now or who have been hurt by the church in some way or who think the church is optional to the faith.  They are not bad people and certainly no worse than we are.  But it is God’s way or no way.

As much as we would apologize for God in this or seek to change God’s mind, our focus is not meant for those who reject God’s invitation.  The focus of our faith and our lives is the fact that God does invite – the unworthy, the broken, the sinner.  God invites us all.  He loves us so much that He invites us all and treats us as if we were better than we are.  God is loving and merciful.  But God is also jealous.  He will not have half of us or even most of us.  He will not share our priorities or our lives with another god.  He claims us – all of us – even our sins with the blood of Christ that cleanses us from all sins.

God is nothing less than kind and generous but He refuses to spend the precious life of His one and only Son for merely part of us.  He bids us come, He cleanses us from our sins, He gives us new birth, He feeds us to everlasting life.  We tend to think that God’s gifts are only for those who deserve them but even our sins cannot stand in the way of His love.  Yet our pride and arrogance do stand in the way of His love.  And this is what God will not abide. 

So what shall we do?  We can fret that some will not come or we can delight that we have been called, gathered, enlightened and sanctified.  We can let our joy in the kingdom be diminished by the fear that some invited will not come or we can rejoice in those who do.  We can focus on the excuses or speak the invitation of God over and over and over again, trusting that the Spirit works through the Word.  We can survey why people do not come and tinker with the facility, the music, or the style or we can trust that the Spirit is at work still -- calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying the Church and put our energies into this gracious Word.  We can apologize for God or challenge the world with a love so strong it refuses to be divided among competing priorities or loyalties.

Remember how this story began.  Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God.  This is not some theoretical bread but the bread which is Christ’s body, His flesh for the life of the world.  He has set His table in the presence of our enemies.  His flesh is real food and His blood real drink.  We are not worthy of His grace but it is His mercy to invite us, to set us honored place, and to feed us eternal life.  Why on earth would we say no?  Come to the feast, the good and the bad, come and be glad, come to the feast.  Amen

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