jg in nj
Suppose you gave a party and nobody came. Suppose you went to a lot of effort and
expense to prepare a great party. You invited all the people you thought were your
friends. You sent out invitations regrets only. You didnt hear back from
anyone so you think theyre all coming. Then on the day of the party, you start
getting nos. Sorry, Im too busy. Sorry, I have to work. Sorry, I have some things to
do for my family. Sorry, sorry, sorry. And every single person has a good excuse for
turning you down. They have responsibilities and obligations that are preventing them from
coming to your party and having a good time. When the first refusals come in over the
phone, you are sad that they cant come but of course you are understanding.
But as the phone continues to ring, I bet your blood starts to boil. By the time
youve heard the same song and dance from everyone on your list you are probably
ready to scream into the phone. All good excuses, but somehow they are beginning to ring
phony. Dont they care about you? Dont they appreciate the invitation?
Excuses, excuses. We all make them. Weve all heard them. Excuses are explanations
for why we cant or didnt do something.
What are some excuses youve heard at school for why someone cant hand in
their homework? [Let kids answer.] My dog ate it. I forgot it I left it home. A
truck ran over it. My printer isnt working.
What are some excuses for not showing up for work or school? [Pause for answers.] The
car wouldnt start.
Heres one that was used by someone who didnt show up for work: The dog ate
my car keys. We're going to hitchhike to the vet.(1)
Heres one that was actually used for a girl who missed school: Please excuse
Jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch,
and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday. (2) Obviously, they are not a
Excuses. Sometimes true. Sometimes not. An excuse is a reason for not doing something,
but usually, not the real reason.
This mornings gospel lesson is about a king who was throwing a party. Just to
clue you in, its not really a story about an ordinary king and an ordinary party.
Its about an invitation from God. Anyway, the king sends out invitations for the
wedding feast of his son. Now in the tradition of the times, the servants of the king
would go out and tell the invitees about the feast. On the day of the feast, when
everything was about ready, the servants would again go out to the invitees and tell them
that it was time to come.
Apparently, all the invitees had said they would go. But on the day of the wedding
feast, as the servants go out with their announcement that its party time
they begin to hear excuses. Nope, sorry, cant come. Busy, busy, busy. Things to do.
No, no, no. Sorrrrrrreeeeey!
Needless to say, this doesnt make the king happy. Even though their excuses may
be good ones, they are not good enough for the king. If the king says Come,
youre supposed to jump and say, when. To refuse a kings invitation
back in those days was a big no-no. And when a whole lot of people refused to do what the
king asked, it smacked of revolution.
But this king was a kind and patient one, so he sent out his servants again to tell the
guests to come to the feast. This time they got violent with the messengers. This angered
the king, so after punishing the offenders, he sends out more servants and tells them to
invite anyone and everyone to the feast. The good and the bad. Not just the chosen ones
but everyone. And they come.
The king, as I said before, is God. The people who turned down the invitation were the
Jewish religious leaders to whom Jesus was telling this parable. The ones invited
after that were the sinners the Jews who couldnt measure up to the demands of
their leaders and all those who werent Jews the Gentiles. Us. You and I.
The king doesnt cancel the party because the invitees dont come. The party
goes on with different guests. (3) And the invitation still goes out today. To all. And
still, there are excuses. How often have you invited a friend to church, and they say,
Oh, no, Sunday I have to catch up with my laundry, yard work, sleep whatever.
Im busy with my job/ my family/ my hobbies/ etc. Im busy with my
responsibilities and obligations. But what we spend our time and energy on is the true
measure of our priorities.
I think that the main reason that people say no is that they dont really know how
wonderful the party and thats the kingdom of God is. They think it
will be less wonderful than working or sleeping or cleaning their house. They dont
know that the kingdom of God is a place of rejoicing of praising God and all God
does for us. They dont know that the kingdom of God is a place of healing and
growing where our souls and our bodies are nurtured and nourished. They dont
know that to enter the kingdom of God is to enter into a great big beautiful family. They
dont know that the kingdom of God is a place of peace. Paul describes it so well in
his letter to today's reading from his letter to the Philippians. "The peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ
Jesus." And a lot of people dont know that the Kingdom of God is not just some
place to go to when you die, but its a party thats going on right now, right
here on earth. And worship and Holy Communion give us a taste of the feast which is yet to
come when the party will go on forever.
So when we go out and invite people to Gods party, I think we need to let them
know how wonderful it is to know Jesus and to belong to his family. Let the joy of
belonging to Jesus shine through in all that you do. Oh, youll still probably get
some excuses. But its worth putting up with them, because you will also get some
And if you have been standing on the outside, watching the party, know that you are
invited in. Maybe the last part of the reading scared you. The part about the man who was
not wearing the wedding robe being thrown out. But when you enter into the kingdom, you
are supplied with the right thing to wear. Its not a fancy dress or clothes with a
designer label. Its not something thats the latest fashion or fad. Its a
garment that lasts forever. Paul tells us what that is. Put on Christ, he
tells us. It is the love and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross that enables us to
enter this most wonderful party. It is nothing that we ourselves have done to earn this
privilege. It has already been done for us. Good news. Party on!
Let us pray. Gracious God, thanks for inviting us to your party to your kingdom.
You welcome us in, whoever we are and wherever we have come from. And you send us out to
tell others the good news that they are invited too. May all that we say and do bear
witness to the goodness of your love. In Jesus Christ, Amen.