This past Sunday was a fun Sunday at church, wasn’t
For anyone who wasn’t able to attend…you missed out!
We had balloons, a beautiful tablecloth purchased
from the dollar store, and a little confetti to go
along with our *party*. Indeed, we had fun.
Mixed in with the fun, however, was an invitation.
The invitation was a response to the Gospel lesson
of the day: Jesus telling a parable about a king who
had a wedding banquet and all his buddies, who
didn’t show up. So the king sent out folks from the
party to grab anyone, the good AND the bad, and he
sat them around the great feast. There was a lot of
laughter in the great hall, along with jokes as good
as the ones your pastor tells. The amount of joy
filling that room was comparable to what Chicago
felt after the Cubs won the World Series last year.
Everyone in attendance was having a good time.
But you know… things got a bit weird and
uncomfortable. The king was walking around doing
what kings do, and he noticed someone didn’t have
their wedding garb on. So this ol’boy… well… let’s
just say he had to leave and hang out in a dark
alley to experience the party through the crack of
The story ends with Jesus saying, “For many are
called, but few are chosen.”
What a party. What a… wait, wait, wait….
Let me get this straight. Dude throws a party. Those
who received the ‘Save the Date’ cards didn’t show
up. So he sends folks out and brings in anybody off
the street. Again—not to be overly dramatic about
it—the guests included the good and the bad. The
Good. And the bad. The people you like! And those
you can’t stand,
sitting next to one another…
at a supper table…
that NONE of you were ACTUALLY invited to….
At just about the time we can accept the radical
hospitality of the king—a symbol for how God
welcomes everyone—we might become a bit troubled by
what happens to the guy who received the “Y'all come
in” invitation but who refused to put on the wedding
Let me help us out. Back then, when folks threw
weddings, guests had to put on a wedding garb. Not
to take away from the rich history of Judaism, but
it would be like showing up today to a birthday
party and refusing to wear a party hat. Now, I hope
you wouldn’t get hogtied and thrown out beside the
dumpster to party with the opossums and raccoons if
you were too cool to wear one of those annoying
So here’s the thing about this confusing parable
that presents a king as easily angered and overly
vindictive, who gets peeved if you don’t show up to
the party looking like everyone else: we dare not
worship such a king nor imitate his behavior.
Nope; we are supposed to reflect God’s reign—a reign
where hospitality is not limited to the “best
people” (let's be honest, often those “best people”
think they have better things to do than following
God’s way). And we also don’t want to limit that
hospitality because of our own pride. That person
who didn’t put on the wedding garb—by saying,
“No”—closed the door to the fullness of divine
Oh, notice one more thing about this problematic
parable: the person who refused to put on the
wedding garb (or that annoying party hat), though
they were excused and found themselves in an awkward
place, they were never pushed beyond the grace of
God. So there is still good news!
Unfortunately, consequences to our actions or pride
are real, but God’s deep love always makes its way
to us, guiding us back to a place of wholeness,
especially for those of us who refuse to believe we
are worthy of God’s love time after time.
Thanks be to God, friends that the realm of God must
always be a place of second and third chances. [[And
thank God that even the backdoor is still a doorway
back in. And thank God that even the opossums and
raccoons are also creatures of God’s making.]]
On Sunday, I invited those who were at our party to
come down and receive an envelope, which contained
an invitation. They had the option of actually
asking someone they know (or don’t know! what a
strange idea evangelism can be…) to church with the
invitation. I hope Lincoln and Logan County are
filled with lots of “See Y'all there” responses.
Also—and this might have been lost near worship’s
end by my weak attempt to explain it—I invited
everyone to receive God’s love, peace, hope, and
Do you remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6? The
invitation he extended to us?
“Hey, beloved child. Do not worry. Do not worry if
you are enough—do not worry about if you’ll fit in.
Do not worry about the latest fashion trends or
keeping up with technology—trying to stay relevant.
Do not worry about the crows feet around your eyes
and the stretch marks on your belly. Don’t worry
about these things because what matters…is you.
“Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor
reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly
Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than
Here’s the thing, friends, the disciples didn’t get
this right away either, so Jesus repeated it in
“Child of Love, have no fear of those who ridicule
you or make fun of you or persecute you because you
stand on the side of justice because you preach a
message of peace, or because you identify as
something that isn’t *normal*.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one
of them will fall to the ground apart from your
Mother. And even the hairs on your head are all
Listen up—God is throwing a party. God welcomes you
to attend. God invites you to show up. Some days,
you’ll know what to wear to the party, and you’ll
come in right on time. Other times, you might feel
like those suit pants make your hips look big, you
might wear sweatpants to the black tie affair, or
you might lose your “save the date” card and miss
the party altogether.
But the thing you must remember is this: it is okay
if you do. Whether you show up or not, God loves
you. But when you do show up, and when you do
receive the invitation to dwell in the presence of
God and one another, the party is better—way
better—and so much more complete with you.
You are needed. Don’t worry if you’ll fit in or if
you have the right attire. Just show up. Be
yourself. Because as one great writer once said:
“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the
meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with
I invite you to receive God’s claim on you. I
invite you to sit at the feet of Jesus and
allow him to heal your wounds. And I invite
you to let the Holy Spirit use your gifts to make
the church and this world a better place.
Friends, the party just isn’t the same without you.
I’ll be here… we’ll be here… waiting at the table
with and for you.
[Adam Quine, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church