St. Mary's Church

18th Sunday after Trinity

18th Sunday after Trinity

10 Oct 2020 • General news

Exodus 32. 1-14

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 2Aaron said to them, ‘Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ 3So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4He took the gold from them, formed it in a mould, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ 5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.’ 6They rose early the next day, and offered burnt-offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

7The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; 8they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” ’ 9The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.’

11But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, ‘O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12Why should the Egyptians say, “It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth”? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. 13Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, “I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.” ’ 14And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

Philippians 4. 1-9

1My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

2I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, 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. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Matthew 22. 1-14

1Once more Jesus spoke to the chief priests and Pharisees in parables, saying: 2‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 14For many are called, but few are chosen.’ 

Sermon Thoughts 11 October 2020 by Lorraine Baker

Today I am focusing on the parable of the Wedding Banquet and I have to be honest that at times it can make for uncomfortable reading.

There are times, when I can recognise myself in the people who were invited to the banquet, but who declined to come - when my prayer or bible study time gets lost in the chaos of life. When I can get caught up in worldly things and not spend time wondering “How would Jesus react to this situation?” Or “what is God saying to me about that idea or problem?” Or when I am suddenly aware that I have not given thanks and praise to God for the blessings in my life for a few days, and realise that my prayer time has been a litany or complaint or a one way conversation of requests and intercessions, without allowing God time to reply or the space to respond back to me.

As I was reading today’s Gospel, I was reminded of another parable set during a wedding party, with the wise and foolish Bridesmaids. 5 of the girls were ready and prepared and 5 were not. Those who weren’t ready to receive the bridegroom, who had to go to buy more oil for their lamps, were then late to the party and turned away; reminding us, that those who are prepared, who have given their lives to God, will be invited into the heavenly banquet, but those who haven’t dedicated their life to God, may not be invited in.

Today’s first parable is similar; there are those who were invited to the banquet - called to offer their lives to Jesus, to commit to living a life of prayer and a growing relationship with God, but who find that there are other things in life which catch their attention more - be it material goods or other distractions. When the next call goes out to open up the wedding banquet to people, it is those who would have been thought to be of lessor importance who are offered the invitation - for example the tax collectors; prostitutes and the crippled - who have taken advantage of the friendship offered by Jesus and who are welcomed into his travelling group of friends and disciples.

In this day and age, with much discussion in the media about discrimination and bias towards people who are different from ourselves - be that by religion or skin colour; sexuality or disability; it is a stern reminder to us that we should not be complacent in our knowledge of our relationship with God. We call all get too easily caught up in the cares of the world, so that when the time comes and Jesus is encouraging us into a deeper relationship with him; when he is trying to guide us down a new path in life, we miss the invitation, and others, may take up those opportunities which we have ignored or spurned.

That said, I also think that this parable offers us hope. This image of the kingdom of heaven reminds us that everyone is welcome, when they accept Jesus’ invitation to follow him. It doesn’t matter if you are well educated or well off. If you are knowledgeable about scripture or just learning. What matters is that you care, that you are trying your best to follow Christ and that you, to quote St Paul in his letter to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again, Rejoice!”


A few extra notes about the Gospel reading

I have always struggled with the last few verses of the reading, where, one of the people who have been brought in to the wedding banquet then gets thrown out for wearing the wrong clothes, because it seems unnecessarily harsh, on someone who, when they got up that morning was not expecting to find themselves at a wedding banquet, but when I was doing research about this reading, I was interested to note that scholars believe the verses 11-14 are actually a different parable, that somehow in the editing of Matthew’s gospel has got tacked onto the end of the parable I focused on during my sermon this morning, but actually is another parable about the Kingdom of god in its own right, where the meaning is about being prepared to accept Jesus as our Saviour. Many are called, but not everyone makes the decision to commit themselves to God and eternal life is not guaranteed for those who do not believe.

As is written by St Luke in his Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2 “everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved”, but we have to take that very definite step and dedicate ourselves to Christ, to call upon God for his help and support, strength and wisdom in our lives and be prepared to follow him, wherever he might call us to go.

Prayers of Intercession 11.10.20 by Malcom Tyler

Invited by our God,

let us now voice our prayers

for the Church and for the world.

Father, when either the traditional or the progressive

blinds us to the truth of your will,

clear our vision and speak through our prejudices

until we are once again open to your changing.

May we be, before anything else, your people,

sharing your concerns and desires.

We know that you care for your people in this Pandemic.

Help us to care for them too.

Especially we pray for those who are working to find a vaccine

for Corona virus and whose work is unseen.

As you have called us:

Lord, we come.

Father, we recognise how powerful

the influences are in our world

which distract many and lead away from your truth.

We pray for the quiet whisper of your wisdom

to be noticed and acknowledged in many lives;

we pray for widespread discipline of the heart,

a new openness to generosity of spirit.

As you have called us:

Lord, we come.

Father, may our homes and daily schedules

be part of the territory of your kingdom,

where it is your will which guides

and your love which rules.

Help us to keep to the guidelines which keep us all safe,

praying especially for those who have to keep shielding.

As you have called us:

Lord, we come.

Father, our hearts rail against the cruelty

and unfairness of suffering and disease,

and we kneel now alongside all in pain

and weep with then, crying out to you

for comfort and the healing of your love.

For you are no bringer of evil to our lives,

but share our sorrow and give us the grace to bear it.

This week we remember Margaret Davoll and Tony Thistlewood

who have both had health issues.

Restore them to health and relieve the anxiety of their relatives.

As you have called us:

Lord, we come.

Father, as death takes from us those we love

and we find it hard to live without them,

take from us all bitterness of heart and

let us share with them the peace you give

over which death has now power at all.

Especially we pray for the family of Martin Semple

whose funeral will be held this Wednesday in church.

As you have called us:

Lord, we come.

Father, it is such an honour

to be invited to your banquet;

make us worthy of our calling.

Merciful Father,

Accept these prayer

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

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