Sun 11/10/20

Broadcast and Live-streamed Opportunities for Worship
8.10 am  Radio 4 Sunday Worship 
10.00 am Chester Cathedral are livestreaming the Cathedral Eucharist at: https://chestercathedral.com/stream/
10.45 A modern-style of service will be livestreamed from Christ Church Gipsy Hill available at: https://www.facebook.com/christchurchgipsyhill
The Prayer Book Society continue to livestream a wide range of Book of Common Prayer Services available at: https://www.pbs.org.uk/churches-and-services/-1


A Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday After Trinity
Matthew 22: 1 – 14


There was a small rumpus last Summer after Lambeth Palace issued an invitation to a celebration of 25 years of women Priests to a number of women stating the dress code was: ‘Lounge Suits’.  

Even in today’s relaxed society, there are still occasions when it helps to know the dress code.  We feel conspicuous if we didn’t get the message asking everyone attending a funeral to wear bright colours, or we forgot it was the day we were supposed to wear a Christmas jumper to work and we are the only one dressed differently.

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet is a challenging parable for a number of reasons, but at its heart, it is about wearing the right clothes.  Although there are a few things we need to think about before we explore what the right clothes might be.

As with the Parable of the Wicked Tenants last week, there is an easy reading of this parable.  Especially if we stop reading at verse 10.  If we finish the parable there, the first guests to refuse the invitation are the Jewish people who have failed to recognise Jesus as the Messiah they were longing for.  The guests, who mistreat the servants delivering the invitation and kill them are the Jewish Leaders.   Not only have they failed to recognise Jesus as Messiah, they will go on to ensure he is killed as well.  The guests who accept the wedding invitation are the Gentiles, those who are not Jewish; the worthy and unworthy alike.

Here we have a nice, undemanding parable which, if we read it in Luke’s Gospel is, more or less, as straightforward as that.  Luke certainly spares us the graphic imagery of murdered messengers, a crazy king and blood-chilling talk of ‘outer darkness’ and ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth added by Matthew’. 

Easier reading Luke might be, but today we have Matthew’s version, which, as John Pridmore observes, is so overloaded with images, the story line breaks.  Wrestle with it we must.  Not least, the troubling final paragraph which Luke leaves out.  The one about the crazed king who throws the inappropriately dressed guest into the judgement beyond the party venue.  Clearly, we have some digging to do.  

Let’s start with the party which is no ordinary party.  This is a wedding reception, and no ordinary wedding reception either.  In fact, it’s the wedding breakfast to end all wedding breakfasts.

In the Old Testament, the wedding banquet is the image most often used to describe heaven.  We see it in the banquet described at the end of Psalm 23 and again in the book of Isaiah.  It will be a rich feast served with excellent quality, mature wine.  A banquet we don’t want to miss.

Which brings us back to Matthew’s parable, and the guest who got the dress code wrong.  At first sight, that’s not surprising.  None of the guests were expecting to be at this wedding banquet.  They’ve been brought in from the highways and byways because the first, and even the second choice of guests refused the invitation.  Is it that surprising someone hasn’t changed into the right clothes?

Except that in Jesus’ day, the groom provided the wedding finery.  For someone to arrive in the banquet hall inappropriately dressed, they have gate crashed through the back door.  They have entered without allowing the bridegroom to clothe them appropriately.  Here, we have another biblical image echoing through Jesus’ parable.  One which comes from Paul’s letters.  In his letter to the Galatians, Paul speaks of those who have been baptised as being ‘clothed with Christ’.

That is more obvious in some baptism traditions than others.  In our own our own baptism service, there is provision for the baby to be dressed in white following the baptism, although the practicalities of re-dressing babies mid-service mean it is rarely done.  Though I have seen a white bib knitted by members of the congregation put on the baby as a symbol of being closed in Christ after a baptism.

Here, in the imagery of Paul’s teaching on baptism, we get to the heart of the troubling final section of Matthew’s Parable of the Wedding Banquet.  The underdressed guest is thrown out of the banqueting hall of heaven to the judgement beyond because he has refused to be clothed in Christ.

This is no wedding dress for a day.  Being dressed in Christ is a garment we wear for eternity.  A dress which requires the constant renewal of the love of Jesus.

Here is a parable which demands each of us to answer the question: ‘What are we wearing, and is our garment kept fresh by a living relationship with Jesus?’

S Anne Lawson
8 October 2020



Prayers for 11 October 2020


The Collect for the Eighteenth Sunday After Trinity


God, our judge and saviour,

teach us to be open to your truth

and to trust in your love,

that we may live each day

with confidence in the salvation which is given

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


The Post Communion Prayer


We praise and thank you, O Christ,

for this sacred feast:

for here we receive you,

here the memory of your passion is renewed,

here our minds are filled with grace,

and here is a pledge of future glory is given,

when we shall feast at that table where you reign

with all your saints for ever,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Prayers of Intercession


In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ,

let us pray to the Father.


For the peace of the whole world,

for the welfare of the Holy Church of God,

and for the unity of all,

let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.


For Mark and Keith our Bishops,

for all the leaders of our sister Churches,

and for all clergy and people,

let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.


For Elizabeth our Queen,

for the leaders of the nations,

and for all in authority,

let us pray to the Lord,

Lord, have mercy.


For the communities in which we live,

for every city, town or village,

and for all the people who live within them,

let us pray to the Lord,

Lord, have mercy.


For good weather,

and for abundant harvests for all to share,

let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy,


For those who travel by land, air, or water,

for the sick and the suffering…

In this Prisoners Week, we pray especially for all prisoners and captives,

and for those who work with them as chaplains, prison staff, volunteers and probationary services. 

For their safety, health and salvation,

let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.


For our deliverance from all affliction, strife and need,

and for the absolution of our sins and offences,

let us pray to the Lord,

Lord, have mercy.


Remembering

all who have gone before us in faith,

and in communion with all the saints,

we commit ourselves, one another, 

and our whole life to Christ our God.


Merciful Father, accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen.


Hymns

New every morning is the love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FIz15z_Qso&list=RD0FIz15z_Qso&start_radio=1 

Loving shepherd of thy sheep https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urUU9hAuEG4 

The trumpets sound, the angels sing, the feast is ready to begin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTXqjo6BDFE 

Thy hand, O God has guided https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esJ7WWqG-dI