Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sermon for 10/13/13--Trinity 20

Sorry. I was a little slow this time.



The Wedding Garment

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

It is not an easy task to get yourself thrown out of the Wedding Feast for the Son of the King. A guest has to work very hard to find himself excluded, especially since the guests are already the dregs of humanity: those whom the servants of the King find along the highways, people described by Jesus as “both good and bad.” Even those who are described as “good” are not the original guests. The original guests, those who refused the invitation, were the respectable people with whom a king would normally associate. But they refused to come, and in response the king sent his armies to exact justice for such a dishonor to his royal self and his royal son and the royal bride. The king knows the nature of the new guests. He told his servants to bring in the travelers and those who rest on the side of the road. They would be filthy from the dust of the road and the sweat of their exertion, and still the king invites them, and they come as they are. But when the king walks in, he orders his servants to bind one of the guests hand and foot and to take him out and cast him away. Why? This happens for the simple reason that the man refused to wear the wedding garment provided for him by the generosity of the king. This garment would cover the filth and stench which the guests would have picked up on the road. Instead the man dared to come to the wedding of the king’s son with the soiled and tattered rags he had worn on his journey.

This is a parable Jesus tells, and as is usually the case with His parables, it’s not hard to cast the characters. The King is the Father, and His Son is Jesus Himself. The original guests are the Jews, those to whom Jesus was sent in the first place but who refused His invitation. And the guests invited from the highway are you and me and all of mankind. And the man who is removed represents all those who refuse the generous gifts of God: those who despise Baptism, who despise preaching and the Word of God, those who have no desire or deny their constant need for this Holy Supper. That is what the wedding garment represents: it is the righteousness placed upon you through the waters of Holy Baptism, a glorious robe made white with the blood of the Lamb of God.

I want to remind you of something. The people who are at that wedding feast are both “good and bad.” That is, they are invited to the Feast without reference to how they live or what they do. Of course, we’re all sinners, but the point is that it isn’t more or less sins that get you an invitation. The grace of the host is what brings you in. Christ is your Savior, and He provides this feast is for you no matter who you are or what you have done or not done. He gives you the wedding garment of His own righteousness which covers everything. If you think you’re a good person, don’t worry: your whitewashed works are covered by Jesus. But the same is true of those we would consider bad people. Sinners and their sins are covered by Jesus. What gets the guy thrown out is that He rejects the garment. He rejects Christ, rejects faith, rejects Christ’s gifts of Baptism and the Supper. That’s our warning: do not toss off the wedding garment. Do not  neglect the gifts of Christ by which we are clothed and remain clothed with Jesus. Do not stop coming to church. Do not stop listening to Christ’s Word. Do not stop receiving Christ’s body and blood. You are an invited guest. There will never be a cover charge for this party. It’s all a gift with no strings attached. You do not need to bring a gift. The feast is for you, and it’s ready. Come as you are, for in the waters of Holy Baptism, Jesus has provided a white garment of His righteousness for you. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.          

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.          

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