Narrative Lectionary Reflection
March 24, 2019
In 1978 when I was around 8 years old, I participated in my first wedding. Well, it wasn’t a real wedding, it was a Tom Thumb wedding. If you are familiar with the practice this is a play wedding where are the participants, the pastor, the bride, the groom, the best man, the bridesmaid, everyone is a child. I was part of the groom’s party and I remember having to dress in a tux. I remember having to go to a tuxedo rental place to find a tux that would fit me.
The day came for the wedding. We had the event and then got in cars and drove around the neighborhood in our pretend procession for our pretend wedding.
What I remember from that occasion was that all of the kids were dressed to the nines. Of course, we had to be, it was a wedding. Well, that and our parents kind of made us dress up for the event.
It’s funny that even though we had to have the proper attire for the event, adults don’t always dress up for the occasion. I know that we are a more casual culture these days, but I think at times we’ve gone overboard. I’m always looking at how people dress when they go to weddings and there is always someone that looks like they literally came off the street. I’ll be honest, I’m not always a fan of dressing to the nines, but I know there are certain events, weddings, and funerals, where it just makes sense to dress up- not to look good, but to show that this event means something, that it isn’t every day.
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet is one that is confusing and disturbing. It’s disturbing that people didn’t want to go to a wedding and they didn’t want to do it so badly that they were willing to kill for it, which is what the king did when some servants were killed by ungrateful subjects.
The king then asks his servants to go and find people on the streets and invite them to the banquet. This should be where the parable ends, with the king or God inviting the poor to take part in the banquet. Kind of a nice picture isn’t it?
But the tale doesn’t end there. There is still part two.
The banquet is taking place, people are enjoying themselves and the king then notices there is one person that is not wearing wedding clothes. The king asks, “Friend, where are your wedding clothes?” The man is speechless. The king angrily demands his servants cast the man out of the banquet and into the darkness.
It’s that odd act of casting out the man who didn’t wear wedding clothes. It seems mean.
But let’s look at this from another viewpoint. It’s important to remember that this is talking about the end of the time. Salvation is offered to all. Some hear and accept and others don’t. Some see their salvation and live in wonder. But others take their salvation for granted. Living in wonder and thankfulness is like wearing your fancy duds. If you take it for granted, it’s like wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Not wearing the clothes of grace is not accepted at the banquet. It was an offense, so the man was cast out. One note, nothing says the man wasn’t allowed back in if he got the proper clothes.
There is such a thing as cheap grace which means understanding you are forgiven, but not really making any changes in your life because of what God has done for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I can imagine 8-year-old me was happy to get out of that tux at the Tom Thumb wedding. I was eight years old after all. But I never did forget to make sure I dressed for the occasion. And may we not forget that as well.
This is an excerpt from a Bible Study from the Chronicles of God series. You can learn more by going to the Chronicles of God website.
Dennis Sanders is the Pastor at First Christian Church of St. Paul in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. He’s written for various outlets including Christian Century.