O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God of glory,
touch our lips with the fire of your Spirit,
that we with all creation
may rejoice to sing your praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I will tell of your name to my people;
in the midst of the congregation will I praise you.
Praise the Lord, you that fear him;
O seed of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, O seed of Israel.
For he has not despised nor abhorred the suffering of the poor;
neither has he hidden his face from them;
but when they cried to him he heard them.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
I will perform my vows
in the presence of those that fear you.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord shall praise him;
their hearts shall live for ever.
All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Luke 14.15-24
One of the dinner guests said to Jesus, ‘Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, “Come; for everything is ready now.” But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.” So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” And the slave said, “Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” Then the master said to the slave, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.” ’
Today’s reading presents us with the notion of another meal in the context of another parable. Yesterday Jesus challenged us to reflect upon how we approach the role of host, today he is asking us to consider how we approach the role of guest.
Many years ago (or so it seems now) invitations were sent and received, usually in the post. The recipients of those invitations, in those seemingly distant times, would feel duty-bound to respond without delay. Those who had been invited would understand the inconvenience and uncertainty created by a delayed response. Those who had been invited knew that their early response would help their future host to plan and to entertain without unnecessary tension, uncertainty and possible embarrassment.
Today, things are different. Today, invitations come with a ‘best before’ date. It is now the norm for invitations to say: RSVP by … What does that ‘expiry date’ say, I wonder? Is it saying: I would like you to come to my party but, if you don’t reply in time, there is someone else I can ask? Is it saying: Come if you want, but you can only come if you are prepared to play by my rules? Is it saying: I don’t trust you to be polite enough to respond to my invitation in sufficient time for me to show off my skills as a host?
All of this modern way with invitations does not apply to God’s invitation to us, of course. The person laying on the ‘great dinner’ in Jesus’ parable represents God. We know that a great banquet awaits us in heaven, if we choose to make the effort to accept God’s invitation. In Jesus’ parable so many made excuses for not accepting that invitation. The invitees had busy lives. They had business to conduct, work to complete, people to visit and fawn over. Basically, those invited by God could not be bothered to RSVP in a timely and responsible way. Jesus wonders if we are the same as those invitees?
When Jesus came to earth he brought God’s invitation, in the first instance, to his Chosen People, the Jews. Many treated that invitation with contempt, but … they were not to be the only ones invited to God’s heavenly banquet. The invitation is for all of us.
So, are we ready to spend the days to come preparing to take our seats in God’s nearer presence? Or, can’t we be bothered to set aside our worldly preoccupations and show how honoured we feel to be on his guest list?
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray to the Father who invites all men and women to receive his love.
Grant that your people, called by grace, shall be worthy of their calling. Keep the Church faithful in proclaiming all the good things of your giving.
Let the whole world hear your call. Come to those who turn away and gather them into the great feast of your love.
Reconcile those in our community who are at variance with each other. Draw us, our families and friends, into the peace that is beyond our understanding.
Be with your servants who suffer for their proclaiming of the Gospel. Turn the hearts of their persecutors and bring them to the way of truth.
Grant your peace to the faithful departed, that they may enjoy the perfection of those good things which they partially knew in this world.
We pray as those who seek to be worthy guests of the Lord who has called us to his divine feast.
Prayer for the week
we praise and bless your holy name
for your saints of every time and place
who have served you faithfully in their generation
and have enriched the world by their lives,
their witness and their example.
Help us, by your grace, to follow them
as they followed Christ,
that with them we may be partakers of your everlasting joy;
through the merits of Jesus our Saviour and our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
My God, and is thy table spread,
and doth thy cup with love o’erflow?
Thither be all thy children led,
and let them all thy sweetness know.
O let thy table honoured be,
and furnished well with joyful guests;
and may each soul salvation see,
that here its sacred pledges tastes.
Philip Doddridge (1702–1751)