Sunday, October 9, 2011

October 9 Sermon

Be patient.

They are words I often tell my kids. They live in an era of now: you want a song, you can download it in less than a minute. You want a bite to eat, stop by the drive through window. Need information, google it and have it instantly on your computer. Sometimes they expect that from parents too!

Patience is a virtue, I often tell them.

We adults have a hard time with it too and need to hear those words. Our smartphones can instantly get what we need and we expect to always get someone by phone.

The Israelites were not patient, when Moses was delayed coming down the mountain. In fact, they were so impatient to hear from God, they decide to make their own gods out of silver and gold. God who was not happy with such perverse actions and was ready to get rid of the lot of them, but Moses convinces God to remember his servants, his covenants with them.

God remembers and is patient for them to cease from their evil ways, for a time.

But will God remain so? Jesus tells another parable about the Kingdom of Heaven.

A King is throwing a Wedding banquet for his son. It is a great big party and he sends slaves out to gather the invited guests. But they do not come. Again slaves are sent, but these invited guests made light of it, ignored them, beat them, killed some. The King is enraged and destroys the city that houses the unworthy guests.

And then he sends his slaves to invite everyone they meet, the good and the bad! And the banquet hall is filled. Jesus ends by saying, for many are called, few are chosen. Maybe better yet, Many are called, but few follow through…

Woody Allen’s line: "90 percent of life is just showing up” makes sense! But there is more, showing up is right & good but in the parable, the King notices someone without the proper attire. How did you get in here? The man was speechless. So the King had him thrown out. Why is he cast out? Why is he speechless?

The good and the bad were invited after the invited guests failed. But this lone wolf, got in…and it harkens back to the parables we have been hearing the last few weeks about faith and discipleship.

Show up. You bet! Everyone is invited but you do it in faith, even with doubts, you show up in faith, not speechless about why you are there. It’s grace. If we don’t get it, like that speechless man, maybe God will visit and help us learn what it means to be invited; this comes from a Jewish folk tale.

The Proud King sat on his throne, he did not listen to the words from sacred Scripture, nor did he honor the people from whom he was king. One day the King went hunting. A trumpet sounded the signal that the deer had been driven from its hiding place, and the king urged his horse forward to be the first in the chase. His majesty's steed was the swiftest in the land. Quickly it carried him out of sight of his nobles and attendants. But the deer was surprisingly fleet and the king could not catch up with it. Coming to a river, the animal plunged in and swam across. Scrambling up the opposite bank its antlers caught in the branch of a tree, and the king, arriving at the river, gave a cry of joy.

Springing from his horse, he took of his clothes and swam across with his sword. As he reached the opposite bank, however, the deer freed itself from the tree and plunged into a thicket. He found, lying on the ground beyond the thicket, a beautiful youth clad in a deer-skin. He was panting as if after a long run. The king stood still in surprise and the youth sprang to his feet. "I am the deer," he said. "I am an angel from God and I have lured you to teach you a lesson."

Before the King could recover from his surprise the youth ran back to the river and swam across. Quickly he dressed himself in the king's clothes and mounted the horse just as the other hunters came up. "Let us return," said the angel. "The deer has crossed the river and has escaped."

The King watched them ride away and then flung himself on the ground and wept bitterly. There he lay until a wood-cutter found him. "I am your King." "You are a fool," said the wood-cutter. "Come, carry my bundle of sticks and I will give you food and an old garment."

The next day, the beggar King reached the palace in tattered clothes. "I am the King," he said to the guards, but roughly they sent him away. "Woe is me," cried the King. "I am punished for my sin."

But for the kindness of the very poorest he would have died of starvation. He wandered miserably from place to place until he fell in with some blind beggars who had been deserted by their guide. Joyfully he accepted their offer to take the guide's place. Months rolled by, and one morning the royal heralds went forth and announced that the King would give a feast to all the beggars in the land.

From far and near came beggars in hundreds, to partake of the king's bounty, and the beggar King stood among them, with his blind companions, in the courtyard of the palace waiting for his majesty to appear.

"Are you a beggar?" said the angel. "No your majesty. I have sinned grievously and have been punished. I am but the servant of a troop of blind beggars to whom I act as guide."

The angel took him to a side room & said, "I know you are changed that you have repented. It is well. Now you can resume your rightful place." "Gracious majesty," said the beggar King, "I have learned humility and wisdom. The throne is not for me. The blind beggars need me. Let me remain in their service."

"It cannot be," said the angel. "I see that you are truly penitent. Your lesson is learned and my task is done. I will see that the blind beggars lack nothing, for all your people need you now."

With his own hands he placed the royal robes back on the King and himself donned those of the beggar. When the courtiers returned they saw no difference & the angel disappeared into the crowd. The King sat on the throne again, read scripture and nowhere in the whole world was there a monarch who ruled more wisely or showed more kindness and sympathy to all his subjects. (A Jewish Folk Tale: The Beggar King)

You and I are invited to God’s party. Every week we get a taste of that party, a foretaste of that heavenly banquet, here at this altar. We are invited because of God’s grace, not because we have earned it, its an invitation to all. We just have to show up in faith. And as we do, listen to St. Paul: beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Beloved, be patient, God is with you, let us think of these words & join in the celebration. Amen.

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