1. Isaiah 25, 6-10
- I hear an announcement about a sumptuous
banquet, a feast for all peoples, not just the ‘have-somes.’ It is the prophet
of God who speaks, not a society gossip.
- Israel is the host of the banquet, and a proud host at
that. It is happening on this mountain, that is, on Zion.
- He will
destroy the veil that veils all peoples… He will destroy death forever.
Something else bigger than a banquet is going on.
- The prophet is talking about the end-time,
when the God of Israel is acknowledged as the God of all peoples. And it is Israel’s mission to keep
alive the memory and praise of this God.
- Finally I hear a response to the God who has come through in a wondrous
way when all hope was lost, when the nation is under enemy assault: Let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us.
But everyone makes this prayer, Israel and its enemies, as well as those who never heard of this little nation.
- Central point:
All of this is taking place in a time we have not seen: the end-time. I will be better served by using
a climactic tone of voice, the kind we hear at the moment of a victory or a loss. Let me not just recite
some more facts from our everyday world.
- Message for our assembly: The place where the banquet is held is very important,
because the prophet repeats on this mountain three times. If this is God’s will,
then how can this assembly help to make it happen – especially in a season when we may be more fortunate materially
- I will challenge myself: To declare with conviction that the hand of the Lord will rest on
this mountain. And to point with my voice toward today’s Gospel,
in which Jesus talks about the same eschatological banquet of the kingdom.
Philippians 4, 12-14 and 19-20
- I know that the apostle wrote the letter while he was
under house arrest. Here he thinks very little about himself and completely about the churches he founded.
He is assuring them about his state of health and spirit.
- He tells them what every true apostle would
know: I have learned how to live in humble circumstances and in abundance. In
other words, I have learned the secret. I will soon hear what that secret is.
- On the one hand he confides
that I can do all things – in him who strengthens me. But he knows
he is not alone. He forms part of a fellowship, so he also thanks them: It was kind of you to share
in my distress. Such sharing is a mark of Christians, and I give special emphasis to these words.
- Climax: I can
do all things… has become a slogan for many Christians. I want to lay the emphasis on the
second half of the phrase: in him who strengthens me.
- The message for our assembly: My God
will fully supply whatever you need. Let us all return to those spring days of our faith when
our worries were few and God would help us overcome all. We need them now in the autumn of the year when
nature taketh away from so many people in our region of the country.
- I will challenge myself: To capture in my voice the noble bearing
and sense of gratitude that I hear in the letter.
Gospel. Matthew 22, 1-14
- Today I hear the
most vivid image of the kingdom. The story of the wedding feast occupies all my senses. I can hear the
commands, see, smell and taste the meats and breads being prepared. But especially in Matthew I hear and
touch the scurrying king and his servants, as well as all those good and bad who came and found places together
at the tables.
is a subplot behind the feast itself, just as there often is in our society banquets: “Who’s coming?”
And, just as in real life, this subplot outweighs the story of the feast itself. Jesus is not concerned
with the banquet itself, but the attendance, just like any majordomo or team owner would be. Unlike the
prophecy I just heard, the Gospel talks about some people who do not come and others who take their place. The
hall was filled with guests.
- This is a feast for all peoples, clearly to be held at the end of the ages: Invite to
the feast whomever you find. And outside the banquet hall is darkness, wailing and gnashing
of teeth. I’m looking for some urgency in my voice. If people continue
to think of the farm or their business or their life of violence, they will be left outside.
The Gospels especially make it clear that we should fear being ‘left outside’ on the Day of the Lord, rather
than being ‘left behind’ as some say.
- Climax: The stranger who did not come dressed in a wedding garment could
be the Christian who will not put on the apron of service, who is always waiting to be served. The entry
ticket, in my opinion, is our desire to serve.
- Message for our assembly: How are we dressed for the wedding? In other
words: How do we plan our days? Does service to our neighbor have a priority or is it only marked on the
calendar whenever we have a “free evening?”
- I will challenge myself: To project a sense of wonder and consternation that the
invited guests refused to come. As I glance at my listeners my unspoken message is this: This
is the event of the ages. Will you be there? And I will not forget to pronounce decisively
the final saying: Many are invited – but few are chosen.
Word to Eucharist: The communion ministers have come forward to serve. What about the rest of