When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.” They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.
The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.”
But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.
Once more Jesus spoke to the people in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Come to the Banquet!!
Last weekend was a very different kind of experience for me. It was our fiftieth high school reunion. I did not graduate from Chariton High because I went to boarding school my last two years but the organizers were kind enough to include me anyway. I had a wonderful time catching up and reminiscing with classmates I had not seen for decades.
There was one downside or complaint I guess. I heard it said with some frequency that many of the ones who still live in Chariton chose to not attend the event. They must have had their reasons but it reminded me of today's reading. All were invited. Not everyone came. That is life.
These parables have been puzzled over for thousands of years by people who want to know exactly what Jesus was talking about. So...lets take a closer look at this story. The king invites his chosen to a wedding banquet for his son but none of the chosen choose to attend for various reasons. In this allegory who is the king, who is the son and who are the chosen? The king is God. The son is Jesus. The chosen are the Jewish people. So...who are the people whom the king finally invites? He invites people like you and me. Actually, he really does invite you and me.
The critical element in this story is that you and I must be wearing the wedding garment. What is the wedding garment? Is it something tangible like the stole I wear at the service or is it a symbol for something else? Our bible study this week decided it was something else. It is our faith and the way we express our faith among our fellow man.
If we choose to come to be a part of the Christian experience there are expectations. We must clothe ourselves with the teachings of Jesus and make those teachings such a part of us that we are one with them. By living those teachings, by walking the talk, we become full members of the wedding feast that is the kingdom of God.