Sunday, October 16, 2011

Are You Ready for the Feast?

Gospel Mt 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
"Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast."'
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.'
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
The king said to him, 'My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?'
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'
Many are invited, but few are chosen."

This Gospel is the Parable of the Wedding Feast, which is not easy to interpret unless you have a good understanding of Jewish customs and traditions.

What is Jesus saying here in Matthew 22:14, which reads, “For many are called but few are chosen?” Some of the things that Jesus said were hard to understand. Why would some be called and not chosen to be with the Lord? It seems that if He called them He would certainly choose them. This question makes us wonder if there might be more to understand in the verse. If He was saying it was their choice then wouldn’t the text read, “Many are called but few choose to go?” There is more to be revealed here and a look at the Parable as a whole will render more understanding.

First - Context.

Context is always vital in understanding any single verse in the Scriptures. Chapter 22 begins by saying that Jesus began to speak to them [the religious leaders] again in parables, and we can infer by looking back at chapter 21, that He is trying to make a strong point to the Chief Priests and Pharisees when He begins to teach about the Kingdom of heaven.

Jesus was known as the friend of sinners and here He explains why He went to the sinners and the irreligious people. The parable he tells is about a king who invites all the important people [the so-called righteous of Israel] to come to a wedding banquet [the wedding feast of the Messiah]. Though upright and moral they had no time for Him, nor were they interested in what He was saying about the Kingdom of Heaven. God was calling them through His Son, Jesus; but they were not receptive. So he sent His servants to the highways and byways where they gathered many to come – good and bad alike. Now, all these were gathered at the feast and the King notices one who does not have the proper wedding attire [dressed in the righteousness of Jesus or according to rabbinical teachings- dressed with repentance]. In verse 12 the King addresses this person and asks him where his wedding clothes are, to which the person has no answer. And the King them commands that he be taken out and cast into outer darkness. Then we arrive at verse 14 where Jesus says, "Many are called, but few are chosen."

This Parable deals more with having a true change of heart than with being one who simply and without thought says yes to Jesus, but then goes and does as he pleases. When there is no change of heart, no desire to follow the tenants of the Lord and no repentance, then there is no righteousness. Jesus is our righteousness, and in submission to Him, which is reflected by repentance and obedience, we are “clothed in righteousness.”

This saying that refuses entrance into the kingdom based on proper attire is more about rebuking the one who says yes, I will follow, but relies not upon the Lord. Rather he places trust in his own methods and personal works to achieve salvation. It also speaks volumes to the ones [Pharisees and Chief Priests as well], who thought their position in the temple or as Abraham’s children gave them the right to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is plain here and He says they cannot partake of the Wedding Banquet if they(1) don't come and (2) are not properly dressed.

It is clear here that the Lord’s message is that though many have been invited to come, and while some think they have earned the right to be there, that only those who put on Christ will enter and feast with the King.

We must all ask ourselves "Am I prepared to put on the mind and heart of Jesus in order to be properly dressed for the wedding feast". If not, who do we need to ask for help?

Peace and love,

Reverend Sue

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy

Spiritual practices from all traditions . . . the letters to know to read the world spiritually and to spell meaning in daily life

ATTENTION: Pay attention. Stay awake and totally alert. See with receptive eyes and discover a world of ceaseless wonders.
BEAUTY: Walk the path of beauty. Relish and encourage its inward and outward expressions. Acknowledge the radiance of the creation.
BEING PRESENT: Live in the present moment. Don't obsess about the past or worry about the future. All you need is right here now.
COMPASSION: Open your heart, mind, and soul to the pain and suffering in the world. Reach out to others and discover the rewards and obligations of deep feeling.
CONNECTIONS: Cultivate the art of making connections. See how your life is intimately related to all life on the planet.
DEVOTION: Express your feelings of praise and adoration through devotional practices. Pray with words and pray through your actions.
ENTHUSIASM: Celebrate life with this intoxicating passion. It adds zest to everything and helps build community. Hold nothing back.
FAITH: Recognize and accept that there is another dimension to life than what is obvious to us. Live with obstacles, doubt, and paradox, knowing that God is always present in the world.
FORGIVENESS: In both your private and public lives, discover the sweet release that comes from forgiving others. Feel the healing balm of being forgiven and of forgiving yourself.
GRACE: Accept grace and your world will be larger, deeper, richer, and fuller. Look for its intimations everywhere. Let this seed of the Giver of Life bloom in your words and deeds.
GRATITUDE: Spell out your days with a grammar of gratitude. Be thankful for all the blessings in your life.
HOPE: Let this positive and potent emotion fuel your dreams and support your service of others. Through your attitudes and actions, encourage others never to lose hope.
HOSPITALITY: Practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the "other" is shunned. Welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.
IMAGINATION: Give imagination free rein in your life. Explore its images and ponder its meaning-making moments, and it will always present you with something new to be seen, felt, or made known.
JOY: Rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Find t his divine energy in your daily life and share it with others.
JUSTICE: Seek liberty and justice for all. Work for a free and fair world where oppression and inequality no longer exist.
KINDNESS: Let Spirit flow through you in little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy. These deeds will add to the planet's fund of good will.
LISTENING: Cultivate the art of deep listening in which you lean toward the world in love. All things in the universe want to be heard, as do the many voices inside us.
LOVE: Fall in love over and over again every day. Love your family, your neighbors, your enemies, and yourself. And don't stop with humans. Love animals, plants, stones, even the galaxies.
MEANING: Constantly try to discover the significance of your experiences. Seek further understandings from sacred texts and spiritual teachers.
NURTURING: Take good care of the best that is within you. Self-exploration and personal growth continue throughout our lifetimes and equip us to tend to the needs of others.
OPENNESS: Hold an open house in your heart for all people and all things. Practice empathy with others and receptiveness toward the universe.
PEACE: Protect the earth's future by promoting peace every day. Your small steps will link you with others who are combating violence in the world.
PLAY: Be playful. Express your creative spirit in spontaneity. Hurrah the pleasures of being, and let loose your laughter.
QUESTING: Savor questions and thrill to the quest. See your life as a journey that quickens your faith and deepens your soul.
REVERENCE: Practice reverence for life. The sacred is in, with, and under all the things of the world. Respond with appropriate respect and awe.
SHADOW: Give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from your imperfections. Listen to what your demons have to say to you.
SILENCE: Slow down. Be calm. Find a place where you can regularly practice silence. There you will find the resources to revitalize your body, mind, and soul.
TEACHERS: Be willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around you, however unlikely or unlike you they may be. Always be a sensitive student.
TRANSFORMATION: Welcome the positive changes that are taking place in your life. Open up the windows and let in some fresh air. Wholeness and healing are waiting in the wings.
UNITY: In this age of global spirituality, respect differences but affirm commonalities. Work together with those who are trying to make the world a better place.
VISION: Practice the art of seeing the invisible. Use the wisdom of your personal visions to renew yourself and your community.
WONDER: Cultivate a vibrant curiosity and welcome the reports of your senses. The world is alive and moving toward you with rare epiphanies and wonderful surprises. Remember you are standing on holy ground.
X - THE MYSTERY: Accept the unknown as part of life. Don't try to unravel the profound mysteries of God, human nature, and the natural world. Love the ineffable.
YEARNING: Follow your heart's boundless desire. It takes you out of yourself and fosters an appreciation for the multidimensional pleasures of life.
YOU: Accept that you are a child of God. Sing your own song with gusto. Fulfill your mission as a copartner with the Holy One in the unfolding drama of the universe.
ZEAL: Be passionately aroused by life. Cherish every moment, honor your commitments, and treasure your kinship with all.


Rev. Sue Provost

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)