Sunday, July 27, 2008

July 27, 2008 (Paul Thiessen)

Paul continued our summer series of talks on the parables, those fascinating stories which invite us into another world in order to tell us a spiritual truth, yet leave us in sufficient doubt about the meaning so that we are encouraged to contemplate the stories from various points of view. Paul spoke on the parable of the great wedding banquet. In Matthew’s version (chapter 22), the king sent out the two traditional invitations (one asking you to clear your calendar, the other on the day itself saying it is time to come). In Luke’s version (chapter 14) people gave all sorts of lame excuses, which listeners assume to be outright lies, each of which lets folks engage in activities which are of secondary importance and get out of participating in the most important thing in life. Analysts have proposed that in the parable the king represents God, the servants represent the prophets, the bridegroom is Jesus, those who reject the banquet are the Jewish contemporaries of Jesus, and those brought in unexpectedly from the streets are the Gentiles, but other interpretations are also available. Since Matthew 22.7 is unusually harsh, some have wondered whether it was added by Matthew as a way of updating the story to encompass the disastrous destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Matthew 22.11 is also somewhat harsh, telling of one invitee being cast out for not wearing the proper wedding garb (presumably provided by the king). This reminds us that even though we are invited to the banquet by a very generous king, we should not assume that because God loves us as we are, we do not need to change anything in our lives. Instead, we need to put on the new wedding garb of patience, love, etc. The parable cleverly tells of an upside-down kingdom in which the wrong people unexpectedly get into the all-important banquet. [JEK] Listen to the sermon audio MP3 recording from Sunday July 27th, 2008 using your browser's preferred media player.



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