Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
When I visit people who for one reason or another can’t make it to church they often ask me what is going on, what is new at St. Luke’s.
These days among other things, I might tell them sadly for all of us, Ketlen has accepted a call to a new church in Wilmington Delaware, and happily the yard is filled with pumpkins proclaiming joy, the Library is undergoing a long needed facelift, the Day School rooms are filled again with the songs and laughter of children, and the Pastoral Care ministry has recently been resurrected and reorganized.
Many of course want to know more about what we are planning to recognize and thank Ketlen. Many things are in the works on that front. Look for an invitation to arrive tomorrow to a potluck banquet following church next Sunday. And then, if possible, do your part by planning to attend, bringing something to share at the feast, and for heavens sake, don’t forget your wedding garment, which means prepare to celebrate by putting on the love and joy of Christ.
On that note you might do well to read and re-read today’s passage from Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
For the past nine years I don’t think we have ever seen Ketlen without the wedding garment of Christian joy and gentleness, focused intently on what is true, honorable, pure, pleasing, and worthy of praise.
Joy seems to come so easily to her, as though it is just part of her being. But like all of us, Ketlen has to get dressed everyday before she can go to work. She has to put on her wedding garment.
Which of course is the Holy Spirit of Christ.
In the parable we read just now, one person who comes to the wedding feast for the king’s son is found without a wedding garment. This fellow is speechless before the king. He doesn’t seem to know what the king is talking about. And the king banishes the unfortunate soul to the outer darkness.
The judgment that befalls the speechless man seems unkind, perhaps even cruel.
But the purpose of the parable is to to wake us up and help us ask how to keep from being people who have nothing to say before the king of heaven when he asks us what we are doing here with our lives. The purpose of the parable is to focus us on the importance of the daily choice of living a Christian life, the wedding feast.
We might well remember that Jesus is telling this parable in the Temple in Jerusalem three days before his crucifixion.
We might consider the connection between the slaves sent to call everyone to the wedding banquet and Jesus.
Jesus himself is both the invitation of God, and the son to whose wedding feast we are invited. It is there on the cross that Jesus seals the invitation forever and for everyone. From the empty tomb he sends out his heralds and we are they in this generation. And ascended to the right hand of God he presides over the ongoing feast of eternal life.
And the main course of the feast is the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God. All are forgiven. All are invited to put off guilt and shame. Put off anger and hatred. Put off fear. And put on the Spirit of Christ. Come to the banquet.
I have to say I have met some of those who seem banished to the outer darkness. People who have ignored the invitation to come to the feast, or who don’t seem to get it. There isn’t any difference between them and those who have come to the feast. They aren’t worse people than those who respond and come.
The difference is not in them or in us.
The love of God does not change the circumstances of our lives. It does not take away pain or sickness solve our problems and make us rich.
The difference is simply that we have taken God on at his word. We have accepted the invitation. We have accepted grace and put off shame, guilt, and fear.
The love of God poured out on the cross is the source of eternal feast. God loves you. And his love clothes you with surpassing beauty. And that changes everything.
At the end of the parable Jesus says many are called, but few are chosen. One way this has been interpreted is that while many call themselves Christian, not everyone really is living a Christian life.
Only those actually living a Christian life will actually celebrate the feast.
Living a Christian life is simply clothing yourself with Christ every day. We see that beauty in Ketlen, and in so many others around this room and throughout the many peoples of the world who answer the call and gather for the feast of eternal life.
So do it. Do it now. Do it every day. Along with the orange apron you put on to sell pumpkins, put on the apron of Christ and greet people as your friends and neighbors. Along with your uniform for school or work, put on the uniform of Christ, and be prepared to focus on what is commendable and true in the lives and work of others. If you are making a commitment to join the work of our new Pastoral Care ministry, put on the gentleness and care, the patience, encouragement and joy of Christ for those to whom you deliver flowers, or casseroles, or offer a ride to church.
Every day in whatever you are going out to do, put on the wedding garment, heck, put on the whole armor of God: remembering the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of faith, the shoes of peace, and the sword of love. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen here, and the God of peace will be with you.