September 16th – R.S.V.P.

There is a great deal in the Bible about people eating and drinking together. In fact when Jesus was describing the Kingdom of God, as he always did, in pictures (or parables) he often spoke of God’s realm as being like a banquet, or a party, or a feast, or even a wedding reception.
In most of these parables Jesus described invitations being given widely, but each one containing what we now recognise by the four letters from France, R.S.V.P. Everyone recognises that this means that a reply is necessary. Such invitations are not transferable.You can’t say ‘I won’t come, but I’ll send my neighbour instead’, for the invitation is to you personally. Neither can you ignore the request to respond: you have to say so if you intend coming or not, for to turn up unexpectedly is not a mark of humility, it is rather impudent form of presumption.. In short, you can’t gate-crash the Kingdom of God.
Now one of these parables of Jesus has been widely misunderstood as if it contained a far too severe reaction.
But when the king came in to see the guests he noticed a man there who was not wearing the wedding clothes. “Friend” he asked, “how did you get in here without wedding clothes?” The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, “Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:11-14
This may seem to be an over the top reaction on the part of the king, until we remember that at a royal wedding the festal robes were all provided by the host and hostess. You didn’t appear in your own robes, you wore the celebration garments which were generously and freely provided for the occasion. Thus to be present in your own street dress, meant that you had no place to be there: you were an uninvited guest – perhaps even presumed to be a robber, as in the Ali Baba fable.
Don’t you find today, that most peoples seem to think that they will be warmly welcomed at God’s party, even when they haven’t even bothered to respond to his invitation?
Listen again, to Jesus in Matthew: “… I have prepared my dinner: … everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.” Matthew 22: part of v.4.
A Prayer:
Lord, I gladly accept your invitation knowing that, since you provide the garments, as well as the meal, my shabbiness will not be out of place at your table.
Now read Matthew 22:1-14.

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