St Michael’s Church, Church Lane, Aughton, Ormskirk L39 6SB Tel 01695 424457 (Parish Office, Mon to Fri, 9am - 12 noon)
15 October 2017 - Trinity 18
Gospel Reading: Matthew 22.1-14
Theme: Ready to party
Bible notes on the reading:
Jesus gives his audience yet another parable. This one is explicitly set at the wedding of a king’s son (though the only reference to the son is at the very beginning). To celebrate the marriage, a banquet is given by the king. In a world when time was less precise than it is today, invitations are sent out. Then, when everything is ready, the guests are summoned (v.3). But, despite the importance of the occasion, the guests make excuses (vv.3-6), and, worse still, the violence of the situation escalates (vv.6-7) – overtones, perhaps, of the vineyard in the preceding parable (Matthew 21.33-46; see last week’s readings). The consequence is that the guest list is ‘universalised’ – everyone who can be found is invited (v.9). The metaphor is clear: the original guests are God’s people, Israel, invited to God’s heavenly banquet (as envisaged by Isaiah – see above); and the judgement is on Israel, because the party goes on, but with different guests.
But there is a problem. One of the ‘replacement’ guests, called in from the street at the last minute, is not properly dressed (v.11). Is it reasonable to expect that a casually invited guest will be correctly attired? Jesus’ hearers, then and now, will not be surprised that the guest was speechless (v.12) to be challenged in this way! But this is a parable, a story, not a factual account. Some commentators argue that we are reading two stories and an unexpected twist like this is also not beyond the imagination of a good storyteller.
So, what is to be made of this improperly dressed guest? ‘Wedding robe’ (v.11) may suggest a specific – and newly bought – outfit, but in Jesus’ day this would not have been an option. Wedding guests would wear their best clean clothes. This man, rather than nipping home to change, has just wandered in, unchanged. The man is ejected because he will not change; he assumes that he has no obligation other than to show up. Again, the meaning is clear: the wedding garment is a metaphor for righteousness; all are invited to God’s banquet, but not all are necessarily righteous. While some may interpret this to mean that God grants the gift of salvation to some, but withholds it from others, the choice – whether to change or not – actually rests with the invited guest.
It is worth remembering that in the Early Church, baptism involved removing clothes, being immersed in water and then reclothed, to symbolise putting on a new life in Christ – symbolism that Paul writes about on a number of occasions (Romans 13.14; Galatians 3.27; Ephesians 4.22-24; Colossians 3.9-17).
Live your faith - ideas for our faith into action in our daily living.
For children: Encourage the children to pray for the people they notice who are left out this week and look for ways to include them.
For young people: Keep a note of invitations you receive, your response, and times when you feel left out this week. Consider how you might avoid making others feel left out or rejected.
For adults: Ask God to help you this week to invite someone to come to church.
Find out more about one of the bible passages
we have heard this week.
Prayers around today’s themes
A way into prayer
Think about parties you have been to and why they have been special. What did it feel like to be invited? Did you have any hesitation about going? Now think about your relationship with God. How did it begin? Is it like a party? (What makes a party?) When are you hesitant about responding to God? Give thanks to God for the invitation and say sorry for times when you have not responded wholeheartedly.
A children’s prayer
Forgive us, God,
when we are so busy doing our own thing,
that we don’t respond to your invitations.
Help us to be ready to receive
your good gifts.
A personal prayer
May I be ready – and stay ready – to say ‘yes’ and to mean ‘yes’ when God calls me. Amen.
All the material on this page is provided by and copyright
ROOTS for Churches Ltd. 2002-2017 Learn more about
ROOTS at www.rootsontheweb.com
© ROOTS for Churches Ltd 2002-2017. Reproduced with permission. www.rootsontheweb.com
Reflection questions on this week's picture: