In the parable we are told of the discipline and punishment of certain individuals and in Paul the encouragement to be gentle with ourselves and with each other. Why is there this difference?
Paul’s letter was written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in AD70 whilst Matthew’s Gospel is written at least 10 years after the destruction.
For a moment let us imagine soldiers arriving in Sheringham and knocking down St Peter’s Church and the other churches in the town. Later we hear that in every town and village churches have been destroyed. How would we feel?
I am sure there would be a lot of anger, bewilderment and fear around particularly if people who tried to stop the destruction were killed. The parable of the wedding feast seems very appropriate as it focuses on discipline and punishment. It would be much harder for us to follow Paul’s advice to be a people of gentleness and yet that is what our Christian Faith is asking of us. As Jesus himself preached - love God and love your neighbour.
Our situation in 2020 is not as shocking as AD70 but our Christian life has been turned upside down by Covid 19. You can no longer just turn up to Church when you want; you cannot socialise; there is no chance to have coffee together or meet for a meal; coffee mornings and sales are a thing of the past with no certainty when these will return. Christmas is going to be very different this year. People are angry, bewildered and frightened by the fact that the future is so uncertain!
What is the Christian answer to this? To maintain our discipline of prayer, of worship and reading our Bibles and other Christian books and also to be gentle with ourselves and other people as we live through this time of uncertainty.
May God bless us in all that we do and say.