Feasting on college freshman.
When I was in college, my roommates and I threw a formal Christmas party. It was fantastic. We insisted that all of our friends dress in their formal attire. We had a gift exchange and toasted some kind of expensive beverage. Not your typical college party.
Around 10 PM a handful of college students (mostly freshman) showed up on our doorstep wearing t-shirts and jeans. Thinking our gathering was just another thrown together affair, they presumed they would waltz right in and participate. Not wanting to dismiss them from the joy of the evening, my roommate asked them to return home and change their clothes. “This is a formal gathering,” he said. “You are more than welcome to come to the party, but you ought to look your best!” Some of the students laughed and dismissed the invitation. But, some of them rushed home. They changed their clothes and came back only to enter into the festivities whereupon a few new friendships were made and a whole lot of holiday joy was consumed. I mean shared. I mean celebrated. It was college. Give me a break!
Have you ever been invited to something and you showed up completely underdressed? Maybe this is a completely foreign idea to you. You are a fashion connoisseur and you do not dare leave the house without looking like the cover of Vogue or GQ. Or, maybe you have only burlap sacks and flip-flops in your closet. Maybe this is your daily reality.
Events like weddings, dinner parties, funerals, reunions, sacramental celebrations and holiday dinners are generally heart felt gatherings. We invite guests because we want to be with them. We want them to share in the joy of the moment. We want their best self.
When someone shows up to our gathering angry or depressed, everyone gathered has little choice but to share in the guest’s anger or depression. When someone doesn’t show up at all, their best is absent and the gathering is simply less of a community.
This is the premise at the nature of Matthew 22:1-14. At the heart of the parable is the awkward social narrative describing a king that gets ignored. His guests don’t show up. The king then invites people from all over and many come, but some attend in a horribly inappropriate way.
Bottom line…we are all invited to a banquet…a heavenly banquet…thee divine banquet. This is the celebration of celebrations. To ignore it is hurtful. And, to attend it with a half ass effort is equally hurtful to the host. He wants us. He wants our best self.
Bring your best to the king today. Present yourself as a servant and be intentional about your dedication to his kingdom. If you are broken, come to him and be healed. If you are healthy, share your joy. Most importantly, never stop inviting others to the feast.