Text: Matthew 22:1-16
It was another of the “Kingdom of Heaven” parables. This time, it was the wedding feast that the King invited the first round of guests to, they blew him off, and so the King pulled people off the streets to fill the banquet. Then there’s the one weird dude who decides not to dress up, and finds himself getting thrown out.
There’s a lot of things going on in this parable – but I think in some ways it speaks to what a lot of older folks (in other words, most of them) are wondering these days: “Why doesn’t my son/daughter/grandkids/family go to church?”
I think they’re like the first wave of guests at the banquet….there’s just a lot of things competing for their time. And while it’s a conscious choice on their end, I don’t see it as an all-out snub at God and the church. It’s simply a matter of too many choices….and church is losing out.
Now why is that? I think we in the church have a tendency to think that being at church is “the big party.” But I’m not so sure that’s what people see. They see a lot of people going out of obligation and old habit. They hear about how we’ve been the ones to stay “faithful all these years.” But I’ll tell you what: the cows on my farm growing up were just as faithful coming to the feed trough at 7am every morning, regardless if there was feed there or not. My point: habit and just “showing up” doesn’t equate to a relationship with God, and experience of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Yet I think we’ve all had them…..those experiences of the Kingdom, and in church no less. In fact, I’m willing to bet that’s why people keep coming back week after week, time after time. It’s why they’re dedicated to the churches they love so much. There’s a story there – where God and the Kingdom broke into your life while you were within the confines of the church; the walls or the community of faith. You were once that person standing on the street during the second round of invites, and found yourself standing there in the great banquet hall, and with a nice suit or dress on no less.
I think the challenge and call for us is to tell that story – our story. Stories of redemption, hope, grace and forgiveness, care and healing….stories of Jesus and his love. They’re stories in which we’ve experienced the Kingdom of Heaven in the church, and it’s why we keep coming back. And I think if we share that…..something will happen. God will work his invitation to the party through our stories….and who knows? Maybe people will start sticking around, just like you.
So, what’s your story? I encourage you to think about it this week – “why do you go to church? What experience with the Kingdom have you had within the walls of the church, or the boundary of the community?
And share that story with someone this week, if you’re feeling brave. And, feel free to share it in the comments here; folks would love to hear.
On an unrelated note: For my small, but dedicated readers, I am taking a break from blogging routinely for awhile. I realize I’m getting very little interaction and traffic on here. While I love to write for you all, there are a lot of things on my plate, and this is one of those things I may need to step back from. I hope you’ll understand….may God be present always in powerful and wonderful ways!