Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church

2021 Trinity 20 Sermon

A Weird Wedding Feast

Matthew 22:1-14

October 17, 2021 anno Domini

Welcome to our Prince of Peace students and their families. I hope Mrs. Immerfall warned you before you came. Redeemer is weird. We only use the hymnal which isn’t the easiest thing to navigate. We chant. We have communion every Sunday which means you’re always here more than an hour. For the cost of the pastor’s robes and the paraments we could easily install a screen or two. You might think you’ve gone back in time when you come through the door.

Here’s the deal about our weirdness – we aren’t weird for the sake of weird. We weird for the sake of Jesus. We’re weird because like today’s Gospel reading we believe that what happens at Redeemer is the greatest feast in all the world, but it isn’t a worldly feast. It’s a heavenly feast on earth and the table is set for you.

Read vs. 2. The King’s Son is going to be united in marriage and do you know whom He is marrying?  You.  The Son of God became flesh. In the conception and birth of Jesus God was united with man. He became one with us to save us. This is true love, not the love of the latest trashy novel you’ve read or the Netflix show you binged. God united Himself to human flesh to rescue humans. God married way down. He united Himself to sinners to lift us up. There was nothing in this marriage for Him except you. And everything in this marriage is His, not yours, but He wed Himself to human flesh to give you everything that is His.

Imagine a wedding where the bride brings nothing but a disgusting past, a horrible reputation, and a million dollars of debt to a ruthless loan shark named Satan. Not only that, but she’s the ugliest girl on the block. Then the perfect man, that man of every girl’s dreams, chooses her, loves her, weds Himself to her and pays all her debts, erases her past, and gives her the greatest name in all the world.

That man is Jesus and that bride is you. You are a sinner. The Bible tells you so. You deserve nothing and Jesus brings you everything. You are in debt to sin, death, and the Devil, but with His death Jesus pays the tab in full. Your name is nothing so He gives you His name – in Baptism you are wed to Christ and now are called Christian – belonging to Christ. By faith you have everything that is Christ’s – His death, His resurrection, His forgiveness, His place with the Father for all eternity.

God wants you so He invites you to the wedding feast of His Son.  This is that feast.  There is one reason and one reason only for you to be in church – you need Jesus and all that He has. Until He returns to carry you over the threshold He has promised to be In His Word, in His Water, truly, really present with His body and blood under the bread and wine. But here’s the warning in the text.  You can refuse. You can go to the soccer field or to the hunting land or to work. But remember, unlike COVID which has a 99% survival rate, there is a 100% fatality rate if you do not go to church. If you do not feast with Jesus you are on the outs. (Read vs. 7)

This is where we see the weirdness of God. When His first invited guests refused the invitation God did not cancel the wedding. He did not say this is going to be a private party – only royalty allowed, the Trinity and the good Angels. Would you send out any more invites after people turned down the wedding of the century to go to the Dollar Store? You wouldn’t, but He would. And He did. He is merciful. He wants people to enjoy what is His – forgiveness, freedom, the everlasting feast of life.  (Read vs. 8-10)

Note that once again no one, not even you, deserves the invite. The servants went out and gathered all they found – both the good and the bad. The King is doing all the work. He footed the catering bill by slaughtering the oxen and fatted calves. The Kingdom is all about His Son, but He wants you in on it. He’s down on bended knee and He’s offering you Jesus. In Christ you have the forgiveness of sins. With forgiveness you have life everlasting and the resurrection.  This is not just happily ever after – this is no more death, no more sorrow, no more sin. Can you imagine what your marriage would be like if neither you nor your wife sinned or if you forgave perfectly? That is life with Christ. Right now, by faith in His Son, God doesn’t see your sin, but sees you in Christ, with Christ, forgiven. On the last day, you will have and see what you possess now by faith.

One of the great difficulties of this parable is the final word Jesus speaks, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” God’s Word declares that He desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, but that same Word tells us few will be saved. It is hard to fathom being invited to the wedding of a lifetime and turning it down for a trip to the Dollar Store, but it ought not surprise us. Do you find this as exciting as attending a Vikings game in person?  Is your attention in church as focused as when your child is about to score her first soccer goal? Is this as peaceful as sitting alone in your boat or deer stand? Do you ever wish church would go on for more than an hour or are you grumbling at 61 minutes?

I’ve said Redeemer is weird, but we’re not that weird. Of our members who attend church the average attendance is about 49%.  So, of the 41 Sundays we have had this year, the average member has attended 20 times.  And over half of our members haven’t attended church once this year. Many are called, but few are chosen.

There is one more hurdle to the feast. There is only one way in. And that way sounds great and easy, but we are scandalized by it. Jesus teaches us this when the wedding hall is full, and the King goes in to look over his guests. He spots a guy sitting in his Carharrt bib overalls, straight from the barn. Now, you might think this is no big deal. We have matured beyond dress codes, but remember this King is weird. He’s also rich. In Biblical times you didn’t just provide an open bar for your guests you provided wedding garments.  Imagine being invited to a royal wedding and the butlers and maids stood at the entrance with a dress the queen wore on her Jubilee or one of Prince Philip’s dress military uniforms.  You only got in wearing the garments provided by the King – it was after all His feast for His Son. This wasn’t time for your skinny jeans and polo shirt or baring your mid riff so he could see your naval piercing.

There is only one way into the Feast – His name is Jesus. You’re either covered with Jesus or you’re naked in the shame of sin. You’re either forgiven or you’ll answer for your sin. You’re either scrubbed clean in the blood of the lamb or you’re a filthy prostitute who chases all the wrong gods. There is one way in. Jesus. His way or the low way of hell.

This is God’s hard Word, His weird Word, but His good word.  He wants you to have no doubts. He loves you, but He doesn’t love you just the way you are. He loves you in Jesus, with Jesus, by Jesus.  Apart from Jesus God has no love for you, because apart from Jesus you’re still in your sins. That’s why He invites you to feast with Jesus and on Jesus.

Now you might begin to understand why Redeemer is a little weird. We believe that what God does in His Word and Supper has no equivalent in all the world. So we don’t act like the world. Our manners here are different. We chant instead of speak. We kneel. We sing hymns ancient and new, not the songs here today and gone tomorrow. We are not practical. We are extravagant. This may look like a feast from the past, only because we have forgotten how to feast because we like our food and our gods quick and easy and cheap.

Some of you might remember a time when you went to your grandmother’s house and she used expensive china for a meal.  She wore an apron over her dress as she prepared the food. She expected manners and even a certain kind of dress. You may have considered grandma old fashioned, even wierd, but she considered you special, worthy of her best because she loved you. So if you find us weird, good, because we don’t treat what is happening here like we treat fast food or entertainment or human pleasure. This is God’s wedding feast for you. In the name of Jesus.  Amen.