Sunday, June 9, 2013

Trinity 2 Sermon

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
          When one of those who had reclined at table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, ‘Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God.’”  Alright folks, a simple trivia question for you to start today.  When one of those heard… what things?  What’s going on, what’s the setting here for our text in Luke?  What comes before this in Luke Chapter 14 is the famous meal at the Pharisees’ house, where it’s the Sabbath day, and they bring in a guy who is sick, and they are watching to see if Jesus would dare heal the guy, which He does.  And then you have Jesus teach – don’t sit in the place of honor lest someone more important than you show up and you get kicked to the back – for everyone who humbles himself will be exalted, everyone who exalts himself will be humbled.  We will actually look closely at that in detail in September – but for today, remember this is the setting.  Jesus is there among the smug, the self-righteous and cocksure folks, and He’s basically been reading them the riot act.  And then one of the guys pipes up – “Oh yeah, it’s gonna be great when we get to the Kingdom of God and we good fellas get to have the righteous, everlasting party.

          And to this, Jesus responds with a story.  “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.  And at the time for the banquet He sent His servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’”  Now, let’s make sure we understand what is going on.  This is a “great banquet.”  What does that mean?  It means it is the party to end all parties.  In the ancient world, your celebrations were all about feasting – about good food, good wine, celebration on and on.  It is a big time shindig – and it’s not just something thrown together – it’s planned out, well in advance.  It should be long expected, the social event of the year – and finally, after the waiting, the day arrives.  And people should be as excited for this as kids on Christmas morning.

          But what happens?  “But they all alike began to make excuses.  The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it.  Please have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have bought a yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them.  Please have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’”  Do you see what theses guys are doing?  They are just blowing off the host.  Completely blowing him off.  And they try to sound polite and proper – but even if you sound all nice and polite when you are blowing someone off, you’re still blowing them off.  And for stupid things.  Examining a field isn’t an emergency – they field will be there tomorrow.  Same with the Oxen.  And as for “I’ve got a wife” – well, it’s the big party of the year and everyone’s invited, your wife too.  But on and on the excuses pour in, and they all sound so nice and proper and prim.

          But the master isn’t fooled.  “So the servant came and reported these things to his Master.  Then the Master of the house became angry.”  Nope.  He knows when he’s being blown off – he knows a lousy excuse when he hears it, and he knows dishonesty when he hears it.  And so in anger he lets them have their way.  Fine, if they don’t want to come, they don’t need it, they don’t get it.  Instead, the Master says to the servant, “Go out quickly to the streets and the lanes of the city and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.”  Get the scum of the city, the people that the “good” people look down upon.  Call them into the feast!  And the wise servant replies, “Sir, what you commanded has been done, and there still is room.”  And the Master said to the servant, “Go out to the highways and the hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.”  Go on, not just the poor Jewish folks – go get the strangers and the foreigners, the uncircumcised gentiles that are traveling.  Go to the hedges – that is, go to where the robbers and highwaymen are hiding and ready to kill and murder people and all them in!  Why?  For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.”  We are going to have a party, a party the likes of which this town has never seen before, a party for the ages, and everyone will be there… everyone except those who rejected and insulted me – and they will know what they missed.

          Now, of course, when Jesus first says this, He is calling the Pharisees to the carpet.  You Pharisees are the ones who act so nice and prim and proper – but I am here, the Promised Messiah – I come bringing with Me the Kingdom of God – but you don’t like Me, you don’t like My Kingdom.  One of you stupidly says, “Blessed is everyone who *WILL* eat bread in the kingdom of heaven.”  Will.  Future tense.  Do you not know that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand – for I am here, the Messiah, God Himself has come to you… and you don’t care.  You’re missing the party already as you make your nice and pious excuses – but the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame, even the Centurion and the Samaritan woman, even the tax collectors and the prostitutes – they hear Me, and they rejoice.  And so, they will rejoice forever, sins forgiven, lives restored – and you arrogant jerks in your pride and self-righteousness are going to miss it, even though you should have been looking forward to it more than anyone.

          This is the same word of warning that our Lord speaks to you this day.  This is the warning He speaks to you, the good “Church going” members of Trinity/Zion.  Consider who you are.  You are those who know who Jesus is, who have been raised in the Church, who know the difference between right and wrong – the fine upstanding people of this community.  Just like the Pharisees were the fine, upstanding people of their community.  And what is the danger for you?  To take Christ’s banquet, to take Christ Jesus coming to you, to be present with You in worship for granted.  “Well, what do you mean, Pastor, we’re the ones who were good and showed up today unlike all those other skippers!”  Yeah, that’s wrong, they should be here – but in the text, Jesus isn’t talking about folks not there, He’s talking to the Pharisees who were sitting there and having the Sabbath meal with Him right then and there.  And here is the warning.  We are here because we have been called here by God – He has said to us, “Come.”  That’s how Revelation ends – the Spirit and the Bride (that is the Church) call out, “Come!”  In fact, the word in Greek for “Church” literally means, “the called-out people” – those called out from there homes unto Christ, those called out of darkness into His marvelous light.

          But why have we been called?  To what end?  To what purpose?  If you are hosting a banquet and you invite people, what are you invited there for?  You are invited to eat, to rejoice, to be refreshed and rejoice.  That’s the idea.  And you who have been called here to God’s House – what have you been invited here for.  Not to show that you are better than folks out there, not to show how nice and prim and polite and proper you are as you make excuses for your sins.  You have been invited here to receive forgiveness from Christ Jesus.  You have been invited here so that you can hear, mark, and inwardly digest His Gospel.  You have been invited here to receive Christ’s Holy Body and Blood, given and shed for you, when we can be bothered to spend the extra 15 minutes of service to have it. 

          And the problem is this.  You are going to be tempted by Satan, even as you are here, to forget why you are here.  You are going to be tempted to do the vain and foolish comparison game?  You’re going to be tempted to sit and complain and grouse (even in your head, even if you are too polite to say anything) about the other folks in the other pews.  You are going to be tempted to exalt yourself, think of how wonderful you are… and then you miss the point of the feast.  This Church isn’t about how great you are – it’s about how great God is.  God is so wondrous that when mankind had fallen into sin, when man in his pride and arrogance had destroyed perfection, indeed, even when we ourselves run and act the fool every day of our lives – while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us..  You, who were estranged from God and trapped in death and in sin, Christ has come to you and make you alive in Himself!  He has called you who are poor, miserable sinners, so often blind to the needs of your neighbored and crippled in heart and deed, and He has said to you, “You are mine, for I have died for you, I have risen for you, and I am here with you so that you will be with Me for all eternity.”  Let nothing distract you from this truth.  Let not the lures of this world and all its busyness distract you.  Let not your own pride, your own stubborn and misplaced sense of achievement distract you.  Christ Jesus Himself is here, He has come to you here in this place to forgive you your sins.  To give you life and salvation.  To comfort you in the face of all the junk that happens to you in the world out there that beats you down.  You are Christ’s, you are called to His feast, and His Spirit has opened your eyes so that you see and know what He has done for you, and you rejoice in it.  To God alone be all the glory.  In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +

1 comment:

Steve Martin said...

I can't tell you how badly I needed to hear that, at this moment.

Thank you, Rev..