This short sermon was preached at the 9:00am service of Holy Communion.
Readings: 1 John 3.13-24; Luke 14.15-24
At the time for the banquet [the Master] sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
Friends, it seems to me that line has a particular significance for us here this morning as we re-open for public worship at a capacity higher than we’ve been allowed for many months.
Thank you all for accepting that invitation to be here this morning at this banquet of Holy Communion. I’m delighted that almost every available space has been filled.
The leadership team has been working hard behind the scenes to prepare St. James for re-opening; and those preparations have included not just safety protocols, but the maintenance and improvement of our building, re-imagining the use of our space, developing a mission statement and strategic plan, and doing church in new ways.
That line - ‘Come, for everything is now ready’ – is also a nice, short summary of the entire Christian story – the story we have followed through first half of the church year from Advent to Pentecost.
God so loved the world, that He sent His Son, His servant, to call us to the great homecoming banquet He is preparing at the end of the age.
Jesus has done the work of preparation to make possible that new creation by swallowing up sin and death by His own death on the cross; Jesus then rose again and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us at table in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus will come again on the last day to usher in the new heaven and new earth and welcome us to that great homecoming banquet. In the meantime, the Father has sent upon us the Holy Spirit of His Son, so that we can enter even now into the joy and heavenly hospitality that await us.
Who could refuse such an invitation?
And yet, like those in the parable, we too tend to make excuses, usually having to do with work, worldly possessions and family.
To refuse this invitation is to refuse to abide in the love of God for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is to close our heart to His love, a refusal to grow in love for God and one another.
But in the words of our first lesson from John: Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart.
And so God’s invitation stands. We need only accept and obey.
As John says, This is His commandment, that we believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us.
Let us pray, then, that God would renew us in the gift of himself, his Spirit, and fill our hearts, our homes, our lives and this fellowship with his love through Jesus Christ. Amen.