October 9, 2011
Sermon for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost
October 9, 2011
The Rev. Bradford Ayers Rundlett
I could write a book about weddings with “Memorable Moments.” There was the groom whose starched, bright, white tuxedo shirt was soaked with Communion wine, and the groom who flubbed his vows so badly that he had to leave the Sanctuary to collect himself; everyone – including the bride - laughed so hard no one noticed he walked out! There was the wedding with seven groomsmen who wrote something on the bottom of their shoes that no one could see until the very end of the ceremony when they knelt for the final blessing – whatever it was, it caused quite a reaction! There was the bride who hyperventilated and passed-out, during the groom’s vows; the bride who discovered that her brand new wedding gown had an 18 inch rip, which she patched with duct tape, and the wedding that was conducted outdoors, on a lovely day, in a lovely park, during the 2004 Cicada invasion; I believe they said their vows, but I couldn’t hear them.
Matthew’s wedding story is an allegory written about fifty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and it was one of those days when things just didn’t go as the host had planned. In this story the king represents God, Jesus is the Son, the wedding feast is the Kingdom, and the point is a lot of us just aren’t ready for the reign of God. Whether duty bound and not making the time for it, or just plain comfortable enough with things as they are, we go our way, unwilling to live as God wants us to live, love as God wants us to love, and give as God wants us to give, to make the world better for everyone. It is also true, as the allegory asserts, that some people are so wounded, so broken, so full of hate, that they will resort to murder and mayhem to keep good things from happening. And lest we think being poor or judged unfit by the powers that be gives us a free pass into paradise, the guy who didn’t wear a robe reminds us that having a charitable attitude is essential. The wedding host provided the robes; this guy refused to wear one.
Hope for a better world has been around as long as suffering and death. Eight centuries before Jesus, Isaiah declared that God had big plans for humanity, that the Kingdom will come; God’s will be done on earth as in heaven. Poverty and oppression, suffering and death, have a limited term, and their time is running out. However, that blessed day has yet to dawn. When will the Kingdom come, when will our Savior return, when will the promises of God be fulfilled?
Paul struggled with this, a lot. And through prayer and revelation, he was convinced that we have a part to play in Heaven’s redemptive mission. He insisted that God calls on us to help build the Kingdom, to help establish the reign of God.
So “Stand firm in the Lord” Paul said. Fix your heart and mind on truth, honor, and justice; practice purity; think and do what is pleasant and commendable; emulate the saints.
We can help God change the world, and establish the Kingdom..
The Kingdom of God is not going to simply fall down out of the sky. Christ laid the foundation; we are called to build on it, day by day, generation after generation. It will happen – it does happen - when we live, love, and give, as the Gospel calls on us to live, love, and give.
This morning we examine our response to the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ. Do we accept and share the love of God? Do we realize how blessed we are? Do we share a generous portion of our blessings with people who don’t have what they need? Do we understand what it means to be disciples, stewards, and agents of grace? Are we really committed to the mission of building the Kingdom of God in this community?
According to The Catechism the mission of the Church – our mission – is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ, by praying, worshipping, and proclaiming the Gospel; by promoting justice, peace, and love. We are charged with the mission of bearing witness to God wherever we are, carrying on with Christ’s work of reconciliation, and being active in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.
It is our duty; it is our privilege and joy, to follow Christ, to come together every week for corporate worship; to work, pray, and give for the Kingdom of God.
And God’s Kingdom is realized when we live, love, and give, as our Savior Jesus Christ lives, loves, and gives.