First Thoughts…returns

It has been a while since I have posted first thoughts. No excues really, other than laziness. Well, here we go!

Readings for Sunday, Oct 9:

Exodus 32:1-14
Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

Well, after reading the Matthew passage I am reminded why I have not posted the last several weeks. These parables are hard. They, at first read, present the Jesus that is mean and judging. He is not the one I like. “`Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Ouch. But, Tripp’s sermon from last week helps me to look at these hard parables through a different lens. One of context. This parable comes right after the one from last week. Which comes right after Jesus clears the temple of the money changers. He is being punked out by the big wigs of the temple, and it doing what he does best…turning the tables and punking them out in return (pun intended). So, this parable continues that streak.

Jesus continued the conversation by speaking to them with Comparisons. “The God Movement is like a governor who gave a big dinner for his party chairman. He told his secretaries to invite the prominent dignitaries, but they refused to accept. So he told his secretaries to try again. ‘Tell them,’ he said: ‘The banquet is all arranged for-the steer has been butchered and the hogs barbecued. Y’all come on to the dinner.’ But they couldn’t have cared less. One left to go out to his farm; another went to his store, The rest of them taunted and insulted the secretaries. At that, the governor had a duck fit, and ordered the names of the scoundrels to be struck from the list of his friends. Then he said to his secretaries, ‘Plans for the banquet are all made, but the people I invited aren’t fit to come. So go to the various precincts, and whoever you find there, invite them to the banquet.’ Well, they went to the precincts and brought in everybody they could find, good and bad. The banquet hall was filled with guests, and the governor went in to greet them, There he saw a guy sitting at the table who looked and smelled like he had just come in from his farm. The governor said to him, ‘Hey, buddy, how did you get in here, looking and smelling like that?’ He just clammed up. Then the governor said to the waiters. ‘Tie the bum up and throw him in the back alley.’ Outside there’ll be yelling and screaming, for the big ones were invited but the little ones got in. (Cotton Patch Version by Clarence Jordan)

It takes on a whole different perspective. God invites everyone, but judges those who like the people in the previous lessons who say they are his, but then continue to disregard his invitations and instructions. (Please note that the Governor is the one who says to kick out the disinvited guest…not the secretaires)

Meanwhile back in the desert our recently freed friends are beginnig to miss Moses. He has been up in the mountain for a while, and well, without him to remind the people that the LORD of their ancestors is the one true God they want something to worship. So they approach Aaron (I had never realized that before this reading), the 2nd in command, and he says to give him all of their gold, and he will melt it and make an idol for them. Now, I don’t know if this was Aaron trying to be sneaky and punish them for forsaking God [ed. I realized I did not finish this thought…Is Aaron punishing them by getting rid of their gold?] or if he was just as bummed out. But, anyway he makes an idol, and their ruccus worshiping it interrupts the nice conversation God and Moses were having. God is ticked and says, “Get down there and tell them that because they are so pig-headed and keep forgetting that I am providing them with food everyday, I am going to get rid of them. Screw ’em. I will make you the father of a great nation.”

Moses replies, “Woah there buddy. I know you are ticked and all, but just take a second here. What will the Egyptians say? Huh? ‘Oh, look, their God freed the only to kill them. We could have done that.’ Come on now, LORD, you can change your mind. It is ok. Remeber what you told Abe, Issac and Jake? You promised them and yourself that you would make a great nation from their decendandts. You want to be know as a liar?” With that the LORD changed his mind.

God can change God’s mind? There are countless times through out the Hebrew Bible that God does that. I think this just furtheres the argument my by Jesus in the parable. You see when the governor invites people to the party, he and only he decides who can come and who can not. Is this not the Good News we are to witness? We are to be the secretaires and invite all to the table. It is up to them whethere or not they come, and if they do not come, do not worry about it becasue the Governor will have other parties. Maybe, by being thrown out of this particular party, the big wigs are brought to their knees and humbled and will come to the next party as the least of these?

So, as the secretaires going out and inviting others to the party, we should follow Paul’s advise and do it with a rejoicing heart. Do it with gentleness and humility, for we are but servants of the LORD. For if we do these things the peace of God will be with us. Let us go invite with a song in our hearts:

Hallelujah!
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, *
for his mercy endures for ever.
Who can declare the mighty acts of the LORD *
or show forth all his praise?
Happy are those who act with justice *
and always do what is right!
Remember me, O LORD, with the favor you have for your people, *
and visit me with your saving help;
That I may see the prosperity of your elect
and be glad with the gladness of your people, *
that I may glory with your inheritance.
We have sinned as our forebears did; *
we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.
Israel made a bull-calf at Horeb *
and worshiped a molten image;
And so they exchanged their Glory *
for the image of an ox that feeds on grass.
Wonderful deeds in the land of Ham, *
and fearful things at the Red Sea.
So he would have destroyed them,
had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, *
to turn away his wrath from consuming them.

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