“A Dress Code”

The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“A Dress Code”
October 15, 2017

Sermon Text: Matthew 22:1-14

Peace be unto you from our Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dear Fellow Redeemed,

The Lord our God does not depict it one way, but rather in several ways to help us, His beloved children, understand His relationship to us. That which is of His own doing and making… and this out of pure Fatherly love shown toward us. We are the object of His affection… the “apple of His eye.” He who is the creator of this vast universe, this earth and everything in it. It is all for us… made for us… for which we give unceasing thanks and adoration.

What we have before us this morning in our Gospel text is truly one of the most wonderful ways in which the Almighty explains the divine relationship between Himself and us… one that has us seeing the Father, God our Father, as a king who gives a wedding feast for his son. His Son, the Bridegroom. His Son, Jesus Christ.

So who is the Bride? We are… all who make up… are part of… the Holy Christian Church which includes those who are members of Church Triumphant, all believers in Christ who now rest from their labors in heavenly bliss… and all of us who are part of the Church Militant… we who, yet, for a little while longer, continue to fight the good fight of faith during our sojourn here on earth.

The Church is truly Christ’s Bride for whom He died and rose again that She… that we… may be cleansed of all our sins… that we may be pure and holy… truly fit to be Christ’s Bride.

St. Paul tells us of how Christ, the Bridegroom, suffered and died for His Bride, the Church, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”  (Ephesians 5:26-27)

You heard the parable that is before us. You know well the parable before us and yet, after all of these times hearing it, one is still amazed and dumbfounded by the great number of people who receive this divine invitation delivered personally by the king’s servants to come to the greatest of all wedding feasts, and yet, refuse to come. They outright reject the royal invitation, paying no attention to it… or make up some lame excuse why they cannot attend.

Are you kidding me? No. There is no kidding here and one would never think of making light of the same, because of the seriousness of the matter and its eternal ramifications upon millions and millions of people. That is why the Master, our dear Savior, Jesus, puts this parable before us… to warn us… to warn others… to warn all.

The message is clear my friends. Christ our Lord in this parable is referring to God’s gracious invitation to all people to come and dine, come and feast, come and rejoice as never before at the wedding of all weddings where He… Christ, the Bridegroom… takes His Bride… those who make up the Holy Christian Church, to live with Him forever in heaven.

How many will reject this holy invitation to the wedding feast? The vast majority of those who have lived, are living and will ever live here on earth. They will not be at the feast, present at the feast. They will not taste even one morsel or drink one drop of the heavenly and divine. Their eyes will not take in the unsurpassed beauty of this occasion which will never end. Their ears will not hear the angelic choirs mixed with the voices of all the saints in glorious music, hymnody and psalm that will take your breath away. Their souls will never know the true peace and joy of the moment that will last forever.

This is the tragedy of all tragedies and it is completely man’s doing. This, in spite of what God lovingly offers and provides in and through Jesus Christ.

In our text, our dear Lord then goes on to share another very serious matter… one that we and all people would do well to consider and carefully ponder.

You see, in addition to those who will refuse the divine invitation, you also have those who will accept it, seek to enter the wedding feast of Christ and His Church, and never sit at the banquet, but are summarily thrown out… removed… permanently.

Why? Well, as it happens, there is a strict “dress code” at the wedding feast of Christ and His Church. Who knew? Well, actually we should… as well as the man in the parable.

The man in the parable should have known the custom of the wedding feasts back then… especially those given by a king or anyone else of wealth. They would have known that it was customary for the host to provide his guests with festive garb, celebratory outer clothing, specially made for the occasion.

The clothes were there, right there for the man at no expense to himself. And yet, he sought to enter the feast, with what he had on… mere rags, filthy rags compared to what was available and readily provided.

What impertinence! What an affront to the king… to go against His will… to reject what He graciously offers and provides. And the same thing goes for us and all people. We, too, should know that there is definitely a dress code to the wedding feast of Christ and His Church… and this, by knowing God’s Word… the King’s Word.

To know it. To heed it, lest we too find ourselves bound hand and foot and likewise cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

it is right here in the Word that those who come to the table, to the feast the Lord has provided… be it this Table, this Supper, the Lord’s Supper now in time… or the wedding feast to come at the end of time… in heaven… all who do so, only do so, clothed in the pure garment graciously given to them… to us… put on us… in Holy Baptism… where we were clothed in Christ… clothed in His righteousness. Indeed, where we first entered and became part of the Church, Christ’s precious Bride.

And so, here we are… to this very day… in Christ’s Church… members of His Church by grace alone, faith alone, through the merits of Jesus Christ alone. Here we come at His gracious invitation and worship Him. Here we come and partake of the feast He has provided… that which we know as the Sacrament of the Altar.

To come and be forgiven, refreshed, renewed, strengthened and be at peace in Jesus… peace through His precious Body and Blood, given and shed for us. Here, truly, is a foretaste of glory divine. Here truly, is a blessed taste of what awaits us at the wedding banquet that is all set, all prepared for us in heaven. Make no mistake about it. It is ready to happen… ready to commence. God’s Word and the times in which we live make that perfectly clear.

The feast is about to begin! And we need not worry if we will be received at the same, welcome at the same. We have the royal invitation in hand… promised, sealed, delivered and guaranteed in the Word of God!

We have on our wedding clothes, graciously provided by our King… those that never wear out.  And we have our seat reserved and name tag in place… the very clothes and name given to us at our Baptism.

How truly amazing all of this is. What took place at the font early in our life, sees us through all of life and is our guarantee and sacred confirmation of where we will be in the greater life to come. At table with the Lord, with all of the saints, including all of our loved ones who died in the faith. Rejoice in this, dear friends… that which soon shall be! Amen.

 May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.

“A Dress Code”  10/15/17  The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL