A Praying Mantis, A Talent Show, and a Sermon

It was a great Sunday. While out for an afternoon walk on this sunny afternoon it seemed appropriate to come across a praying mantis in a prayerful pose along the side of the road.

He should be praying that he doesn’t get run over by a car. Probably he’s praying the guy hovering way too close to him with some strange gadget isn’t about to do him harm.

We left him in peace, enjoying his sunbath.

At our church it’s the season to be reminded of good stewardship practices. This morning’s sermon didn’t revolve around stewardship, but we had a stewardship event after church, A talent show following a pizza luncheon showcased some of the fine talents within our little church. The acts ran the gamut of silly to serious…all fun, touching, telling, and inspiring. Sunday school children sang and played instruments. One little boy asked if he could pray and blessed us all with his heartfelt words that we would all have a fun time and be safe and that God would be with everyone. (Something like that. I was too enamored by his adorable presence and sincere heart to remember exactly what he said.) Adults sang, told stories, gave testimony and played instruments as well. Each participant offered their talent to make the point, we all have special ways to honor God and bless people. Each person’s offering, no matter how small or large, blesses the whole body, our church, and/or our community.

But before any of that…during church… a sermon from the gospel of Matthew chapter 22. Jesus told a parable about a royal family’s wedding banquet. First, invitations were sent out by the king for his son’s wedding. But, lo and behold no one could come. (so of course, a little ditty from days gone by began playing in my mind…)

I cannot come…I cannot come to the banquet,
Don’t trouble me now.
I have married a wife,
I have bought me a cow.
I have fields and commitments that cost a pretty sum,
Pray hold me excused, I cannot come.
While that was going through my head, the pastor moved on in his message. He must have told the part about the king being incensed and telling his servants to go to the highways and byways and ask them to come in. His feast was ready and the banquet must begin. So they brought in all kinds of people, the good and the bad, until the wedding hall was filled. The good and bad part got my attention.
So when I came back to the present, Pastor was telling the part where the king noticed a guy improperly dressed. He did not have on a wedding robe. (Side note, when he asked the kids during the children’s sermon, what they would think if someone came to a fancy party with ripped jeans and a dirty tee-shirt. One youngster piped up right away, “Well I don’t judge people’s clothes.” The pastor turned to us grown ups and said. “Good answer. My job here is done.” Gotta love those kiddos and a pastor who can roll with it when kids say the darnedest things.)
Back to the sermon. The guest who appeared at the wedding without a proper robe was bound and cast out to a place where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Whoa, no warning, no chance to go home and change, just plain…you’re out, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” 
The pharisees knew Jesus was speaking of them and they didn’t like it. Nor would I, if I were them. And he wasn’t talking about what kind of clothes anyone was wearing. The deeper meaning, my take away — everyone and his sister has been invited to heaven. Those who don’t refuse to put on the covering of Jesus are chosen.

I phrased that last sentence the way I did on purpose. The wedding guest who came improperly dressed made a choice to do so. It was a calculated, in-your-face decision, and he knew better.

These are my thoughts, not my pastor’s words. I’m well aware you can’t build a theology around a parable. But, you can build a theology around Jesus, his death and his resurrection — an incredible demonstration of God’s love for all people. He is not willing that any should perish. 

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