October 11, 2020
St. John’s United Church of Christ, Union, Illinois
A king gave a wedding banquet for his son. Imagine the pageantry, the sumptuous feast, the decorations and music! Think about the people who will be there, the rich and famous, the beautiful and bold! Who wouldn’t want to go to this banquet?
Excuses. “They made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business” (v. 5). Not only that, they killed the messengers. What is going on? Is this some terrible king, someone beneath notice? Maybe this king is not any good, so the very important people dismiss the invitation.
Maybe this king is bad in another way. A tyrant, maybe, who sends the troops in and burns the city. Going to the banquet may be walking into a trap; it’s dangerous. Or it could be like a time-share meeting. You go because of a promise of a big reward at the end, but the meeting never seems to end. Maybe no one likes the son, the one for whom the banquet is being given. You’re throwing a party for that guy? No thanks!
Perhaps this king keeps throwing parties, week after week, the same party, the same food, the same music and pageantry. It was interesting enough at the beginning, but it’s boring. We go, and we eat, but we’re not being fed. We’re not satisfied with the feast anymore. Besides, we’re busy, we’ve got things to do. The cows need milking and the business doesn’t run itself. There will be another banquet, another time to go, but not now.
Are we the ones who won’t go to the banquet? There are plenty of things to occupy our time. We have jobs, volunteer work, clubs and time with friends. We have food to cook, dishes to wash, children’s activities to manage, and the laundry, always the laundry. There are things we’d like to do if we ever had time, but even in the COVID downtime we still didn’t manage to do them. So much to do and so little time, energy, and motivation to do them.
There are those who wouldn’t get a chance to go to the banquet. The nobodies, the poor, the strangers and weird ones. Some don’t get that first invitation. Perhaps there are some who don’t even know that there is a banquet at all. There are some who are simply alone, lost, or forgotten.
The kingdom of heaven is like a banquet where no one came. So, the king sent word: “Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet” (v. 9). The wealthy and powerful are too busy? Fine, bring in anyone you can find. Everyone is invited. The good and the bad, the rich and the poor, the normals and the weirds. Everyone has a place at this table, everyone who wants to be here can get in the door.
There’s that old hymn, “Oh when the saints go marching in.” We want to be in that number, but even if we’re not, even if we’re not saints, but sinners, we’re invited. The doctor and the doorman, the maid and the magistrate, the students and CEOs are all invited. Imagine it.
Imagine sitting down to eat with your hero, the woman you most admire, the athlete or author who captures your dreams. But don’t stop there, imagine sitting with the ones who admire you, who find you to be amazing and brilliant. Imagine sitting with your best friend, an old enemy, or someone you could never have known.
Our friend Errol has left this world behind. I imagine him sitting in the great banquet hall surrounded by those he had loved and lost. A celebration indeed, and we can join him there one day if we but come when we’re called. The invitation has been extended to all. Will you come to the banquet of the kingdom of heaven?