Church of England Diocese of Leicester Burbage with Aston Flamville

This week's sermon

12 Oct 2020, 1:15 p.m.

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Who likes weddings? They are somewhat restricted this year with the government regulations surrounding the ceremony and reception, and many couples have rearranged their nuptials for next year. Our parish priests, and those of us who are in the choir, have previously been used to witnessing quite a variety of weddings, especially over the summer months, but all has been rather quiet since last March. I must say that some weddings are more memorable than others, but who could forget the travelling fairground people’s marriage when 3 coach loads of guests arrived, the women competing with each other with their hats and fascinators and the men were, ahem, rather inebriated? Or the fancy dress occasions? Some weddings can seem a bit flat and lifeless, whereas others are truly joyful and moving.

Nowadays, thanks to the internet, it is possible to create really imaginative and bespoke invitations that help you to look forward to the prospect of attending the wedding. What are some of the reasons that people turn down wedding invitations? Maybe they have another engagement on that day, perhaps they reckon it will be too costly to pay for travel and possibly overnight arrangements, perhaps they feel they are too busy to use up a whole day or weekend in that way, or maybe they have child-care needs that would be complicated to arrange.

In today’s parable, many people had been invited to the King’s son’s wedding banquet, but found reasons to turn down the invitation. God is inviting us to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. He is preparing his church to be the Bride of Christ. How do we respond to his invitation? Do we make light of the invitation because we are so easily distracted by other things that we perceive to be important? In the parable, the King measured someone’s worthiness by how willing they were to accept the invitation. I hope we are keen to accept our Lord’s invitation to the glorious wedding feast in heaven. God has no limits on how many people he can invite – the slaves in our parable were sent out to gather all whom they found, whether they seemed good or bad. God’s wedding list is not restricted to 15 people! Everyone is able to hear God’s voice calling them, if they are prepared to listen.

When you are getting ready to go to a wedding, I am sure that you put some thought into what you are going to wear, what gift you will buy, how you will get there, what you will eat and drink, who else you will see there. It is all part of the preparation. It is a privilege to be invited, so you would be dishonouring your hosts if you turned up in inappropriate clothes. Mind you, some of us have seen some real sights at weddings: a man wearing a suit with no shirt or socks on, and women teetering dangerously on 6” heels and wearing dresses so short that they show their underwear. The King had invited lots of people to his son’s wedding but he chose to keep and welcome only those who were truly ready and prepared for the celebrations. Do we understand what it means to be invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb? Are we making suitable preparations, in the present, for that time when God’s Kingdom will fully come and the church will be presented as the Bride of Christ?

I want to be prepared for the wedding of the Lamb, don’t you? So, what preparations do we need to make?

• Firstly, make sure you have accepted the invitation. Have you answered the call to follow Jesus and be part of the Bride of Christ? Thank the Lord for His wonderful invitation.

• How will we get there? We get there by being a part of the church, the family of believers, which consists of all faithful believers from all time. Believers are those who have recognised Jesus as the Lamb of God, the one who forgives us, who takes away our sin and gives us new life. Jesus has triumphed over death and enables us to escape the dread of the final judgment at the culmination of human history. Put your trust in Jesus to help you on your journey of life.

• What gift will we take? The only present that God requires of us is ourselves. However, it is a gift that will cost everything you have and everything you are. When we follow Jesus as His disciples, we give to him: our time, our money, our talents, our relationships, our plans for the future. In return, we are adopted into God’s family, and can experience life in all its fullness, power through the Holy Spirit to live victoriously, inner joy and peace beyond our understanding.

• What will we eat and drink? There will be a tremendous wedding feast and there won’t be any charges at the bar! We will be able to drink freely from the water of life.

Revelation 22:17 says this

The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’

And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’

And let everyone who is thirsty come.

Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

• What are we going to wear and who else will be there? We will be dressed in fine linen, bright and pure – and every guest likewise. These clothes will be provided to those who have been made right with God, or righteous, through their belief in Jesus to save or sanctify them. The saints are all the people who have been sanctified. The whole great community of believers will be there at the wedding feast, from every nation on earth, united as one bride made ready for Jesus. One church, one faith, one Lord.

Revelation 19:5-9 says this

And from the throne came a voice saying,

‘Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.’

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder-peals, crying out,

‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and his bride has made herself ready;

to her it has been granted to be clothed

with fine linen, bright and pure’—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’

Yes, we are blessed that we have been invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Make sure you are ready for it!

Amen

Mary Tynan 11/10/2020