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19 Pentecost - Matthew 22:1-14

I have accused my best friend of raising three beautiful children: a son, a daughter, and me.

He has taught me a lot and rescued me from myself on multiple occasions, including our

college classmates' wedding.

I showed up without a suit jacket.

He shook his head at me and gave me one to borrow.

He considered better than I did the significance of the occasion.

He clothed me in righteousness so that I wouldn't diminish or dishonor the party.

According to Matthew, he also saved me a trip to the dentist.

Like last week's parable in the vineyard, this week's story features violence and murder, then adds bouncers sending wedding crashers to tears in the outer darkness for fashion fouls.

Both are unique to Matthew, who is uniquely concerned about mercy, so why has the gospel

turned so merciless?

Why does the gospel author who rails so constantly against judgment present Jesus being so judgmental?

Perhaps the gravitational pull of violent negativity is just too relentless and strong; perhaps like many of us Matthew is being sucked into the same toxic behavior he is fighting against.

Hatred of hatred, intolerance of intolerance, fighting against fighting, and fear of fear are sadly ironic and common conditions.

Love is blind, and so is anger, especially when they are mixed together.

Matthew is passionate about the kingdom of heaven, the reign of God's mercy introduced,

embodied, and elaborated by Jesus.

In this kingdom there is grace on offer for all from the ruler of all reality...and people don't care.

The news of the kingdom is too good to be believed, and it is not being taken seriously.

Some people are losing their minds this week over a president refusing to cover his face even after being hospitalized with COVID-19.

Matthew is losing his mind because God's people are being just as perilously careless and

cavalier about God's life.

Too many of God's chosen people treated the Messiah even worse than they treated the prophets before him.

Too many of the party-crashing Gentiles don't appreciate thier windfall of divine mercy enough to put on new attitudes and behaviors.

Too many of us all take everyday grace for granted.

C.S. Lewis once preached, Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infiinte joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.

We are far too easily pleased.

We far underestimate the value of the feast provided to us for free.

It is easy, and not wrong, to hear "wedding feast" and associate it with a heaven beyond human history, the glorious consummation of all things, the happily ever after to which the

Bible, and Holy Communion, point us with their royal wedding language.

But locating the party only outside the borders of time and space tempt us to dismiss or make light of it.

Look around.

Search your life.

Even in our current chaos, is it not more grace than you could ever imagine or hope to deserve?

You were born, and every morning since your breath has been there, and so has the sunrise, always a gift, never a guarantee.

There are water and sky and soil and birds and music and muscles and beauty and passion and possibility and starlight and language and stories and love; earth is a palace overflowing with wonders and miracles.

Life is a free, extravagant wedding feast...and we make light of it. We are busy with market shares and status reports.

We commodify people and time, reducing the mystery to management projects.

We cut lifelines to meet deadlines, and we dismiss and do violence to the artists and other

prophets who announce impossible alternatives too wondrous to trust.