For Unto You a Child Is Born
January 3, 2018
December 5, 2017
Wedding Banquet Gone Wrong
A Hot Button Issue
70 Times 7
But I Do Know This God
October 8, 2017
You Can Run...
May 9, 2016
In Her Name
March 25, 2016
A New Direction
March 18, 2016
Whose Wife Will the Woman Be in Heaven?
March 15, 2015
Where Isn't Jesus Tonight? A Christmas Eve Homily
December 25, 2014
Is That Any Way to Treat a Friend? Moses & God
March 31, 2015
The Rev. Tricia Leonard-Pasley
Jesus was no teller of cozy bedtime stories;
his parables are meant to disturb—to wake us up,
shake us out of our complacency,
and compel us to ask hard questions about ourselves, and about God.
This week’s parable of the wedding banquet is no exception.
We cannot soften its jagged edges; or smooth over the details -
when, there is a body count to contend with.
This is an outrageous story, steeped in violence.
And, if someone were to make it into a movie,
the genre would be horror.
But for centuries, we have tried to soften it.
The king (I was taught) represents God, the son is Jesus,
the rejected slaves, are the Old Testament prophets,
the A-list guests who refuse to attend the wedding,
are the Jewish people of Jesus’ day, who did not heed his invitation.
And the B-listers who come in off the streets
to fill the banquet hall are us, the gentiles.
It’s a convenient interpretation: we end up snug and cozy,
feasting on wine and caviar while the rest of the world burns.
At least, as long as we show up to the banquet wearing the right clothes.
`Take God’s invitation seriously, or there will be consequences’…
is the explanation I have always heard,
and for a long time I had no problems with it.
But, the unprecedented violence, (again) this time in Las Vegas
has left me no stomach for it.
I can no longer accept the traditional interpretation of this parable,
nor, can I ignore it. I only wonder why it took me so long.
I mean, really? Guests who would rather commit murder
than attend a royal wedding?
Platters of fine food that remained fresh and edible
while an army razed a city to the ground?
Party-goers who have no choice but to carry on eating and dancing
while death and destruction reign just outside?
Why was I trying to make this story OK when it clearly isn’t?
And, how do I, or anyone for that matter,
justify this depiction of God?
A God that is petty, vengeful, and hotheaded?
A God who burns an entire city to the ground,
in order to appease his wounded ego?
A God who forces people into his house to celebrate his son,
whether they want to come or not,
and who casts one poor soul out into “outer darkness”
because his dress offends?
NO, the king in this story is a tyrant, and he is violent,
and if this is suppose to be God, than this God should be resisted.
And, if Jesus thought God was like this,
then dare I say, we should wonder if Jesus is worth following either.
The ‘king’ described in the story is not anything like the God I know.
So, this king can no longer represent God for me.
I must find another way to understand this parable, or abandon it forever.
So, I am striking out on my own today, with my own interpretation,
that you are free to consider, or not.
The Kingdom of God is on earth.
The Kingdom of God, is God’s dream of peace, and it is a very fragile thing,
because many of the rulers of this world seem hell bent on violence,
and dream only of their own power.
The king in this story is an earthly king, he has gone by many names
throughout history, Herod, Nero, Stalin, to name just a few.
He is king, but he is not a legitimate ruler, because he rules by fear,
he insights violence, he is obsessed with his banquet,
and not with the welfare of his people.
We have seen his kind, many times, and so had Jesus.
So imagine with me, if those who had been invited,
did not come to the banquet -- as a sign of protest?
Imagine, that the reason they did not drop everything and go
was because the promises of the king were false,
or because in this king’s reign there was no justice,
or because the poor were left in their poverty with no recourse?
What if the guests did not go to celebrate with the king
because the king was no king worthy of the title?
This reality would have infuriated the King, who would have resorted
to more violence so that his banquet hall would be filled,
and so that he would not suffer shame
in the eyes of friends and adversaries alike.
And, what if Jesus was not the bridegroom,
But the one who came without the wedding robe -
the one who could not, would not, pretend to honor a tyrant king,
and who, on behalf of all of us, was thrown into the outer darkness
where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth?
Jesus as much as told the disciples this was how it would happen
when they got to Jerusalem, but they couldn’t see it.
Matthew writes; “While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the 12 disciples aside and said to them;
“See, we are going to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man
will be handed over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged
and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”
God’s power is always based on God’s identification with the victims,
and the sinners. An identification, which involves suffering with them.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it well;
“God let’s himself be pushed out in the world onto the cross.
He is week and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way,
the only way, in which he is with us and helps us.”
Everything in the old world is turned upside down,
when we read the parable this way.
Human earthly kingdoms operate by the threat or use of force;
they dish out the violence.
But Jesus here is telling us straight out that the kingdom of heaven
is about suffering the violence, instead of dishing it out.
It believes the power of love and forgiveness
are the greatest powers on earth.
Is it an answer to the senseless violence that was experienced
in Las Vegas last week? Only you will have to decide.
January 2018 (1)
December 2017 (4)
October 2017 (1)
May 2016 (2)
March 2016 (2)
March 2015 (3)
December 2014 (1)