My wife has still to forgive me but here’s my story of missing out on a party hosted by the Royal family.
Many years ago whilst working for Canterbury Diocese (Church of England), a gold framed invitation arrived at our house, requesting the presence of Mr and Mrs Brown to a garden party at Buckingham Palace. The occasion, well, Canterbury Diocese that year was hosting the worldwide gathering of all Anglican Bishops and they and all Canterbury staff were invited to a “knee’s up” with Her Majesty.
I was “new on the block” in my job with a whole summer of mission trips and camps with young people planned, truth be told I found myself making my excuses and declining the Queen’s invitation. Plus, we had a wee baby boy just over a year old and child minding was hard to come by.
The camps went really well I am pleased to report. Colleagues in the office talked for months about going to Buckingham Palace. I learned quickly not to mention anything to do with royalty at home.
I had squandered an opportunity for my family to see the Queen and eat her cucumber sandwiches.
This Sunday’s Gospel, see Jesus telling a parable about a King who throws a wedding party and invites guests to join him. These guests for one reason or another (maybe an excuse such as being busy running a youth camp) refuse the King’s invitation. The King gets angry. Very angry.
And, having crushed those who refused his invitation, the King sends his servants to find anyone “good or bad” (Matthew 22 v 10) to join the celebrations. It’s party time for those who choose to take up the invite and a generous invitation at that.
As much as this is an uncomfortable Gospel reading…an angry King, people too busy to care about a wedding feast invite for example; the parable also points out a message of hope that only Christ Himself can issue…
If we choose to take up the invite,
If we choose to not be overrun with busyness,
If we choose to welcome grace into our lives.
Whether “good or bad”, rich or poor, broken or healed, mentally and emotionally fragile or feeling robust, there is a party Jesus Himself calls us too. In this world, yes . And above all, the world to come.
For as such, Jesus teaches, is the “Kingdom of God”. Somehow, more radical in it’s inclusion than we dare imagine.