Sermons 2008
The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Proper 23A 2008                                               Matthew 22:1-14

            Weddings are usually wonderful celebrations of a major life event.  Two people meet and decide to marry.  And in fact a wedding is the celebration and recognition of a marriage that has already taken place in the hearts of the two people involved.  On the other hand, if you are the parents – and especially the father -- of the bride., the wedding itself can become difficult as well as very expensive before it is all over and done.

            This wedding in another of Jesus’ parables seems to have been more difficult than usual.  Interesting that Jesus did not mention a bride. 

The standard homiletical allegorical interpretation:  The symbols therein are loaded with theological and historical references:  Theologically the "king" corresponds to God;  "wedding" is a messianic banquet; t he mistreatment and killing of those bearing the king's invitation recalls the killing of prophets; t he son is Jesus;  the destruction of the city represents the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E.  The allegorical story thus presents the history of God's dealings with Israel and the calling of a new people to whom will be given the fruits of the kingdom.  Those who reject the invitation are either the Jewish leaders or the Jewish people as a whole, while those who accept the invitation and enjoy the banquet are both the Jewish and Gentile believers. (1)

            But history helps with the theological problems the passage and its standard  interpretation present:  How many and who are invited to share in the new life brought by Jesus, and  why do some who are invited refuse the invitation?

Most theologians throughout Christian history have stressed that the invitation to life in Christ goes out to all. While that invitation first went out to Jews, it was quickly extended to the Gentiles, and from there expanded into the whole known world.  The church saw itself as called to proclaim God’s marvelous deeds in Jesus to all of the nations.

When the church was a persecuted and illegal minority in Roman society it was able to attract members literally "by invitation only."   Acceptance of the invitation was often tantamount to signing one’s own death warrant.  The high risk changed after Christianity became established in the empire.   Many now became Christians by social convention rather than by conscious choice.  In fact, it was expected that Roman citizens be Christians.  Jews were technically exempt from this requirement, but in later centuries there were attempts to convert Jews forcibly to Christianity.

After the establishment of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine in330AD, the question of accepting or rejecting God’s invitation took on a different tone.  From the beginning, Christians were conscious of the possibility of hell, or being cut off from the Kingdom of God.  Clearly, some people seemed to embrace and live the word of God while others did not. One doctrine was the notion that all of creation will be restored to wholeness and that in the end no one will be lost.

Several major objections have been raised to this idea of universal salvation.  One is that it compromises the church’s position on the necessity of grace.  f in the end everyone will inevitably be reconciled to God then why is grace even needed?    One important objection is that it does not respect the free will that God has given humans. After all the scriptures themselves suggest that some people will be damned if they choose to reject God.

Historically, more theologians believe that many are lost than who believe that all are saved.  Today, many theologians and people are uncomfortable with the idea that "few are chosen."  We prefer to think that God has cast the net of salvation widely rather than narrowly.  This discomfort is a sign of why we need to consider the second section of today’s gospel.  Some people may accept the invitation, but then come dressed or behave in a way that is inappropriate to the banquet.  What this second section means theologically is that it is not enough to say "yes" to God with our lips, we also need to say yes with our lives.

If we are going to "put on the new person," we need to put on new clothes (new attitudes and behaviors).  Woody Allen may be right:  "Seventy percent of success in life is just showing up."  But the other thirty percent is participating fully in the event once we’re there.  If we’re not willing to do that, then maybe we haven’t really accepted the invitation.  (2)




            1. R. David Kaylor, Exegesis I, Lectionary Homiletics for Matthew 22:1-14,

            2.  Dennis E. Tamburello, Theological Themes, Lectionary Homiletics for Matthew 22:1-14,