Collect for Proper 23
Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Readings for today can be found here.
Rite II, Spiritual Communion & Meditation
Rev. Bambi Willis, Karla Snellings, and Barry Holliday have coordinated our service for this morning. The service can be found here: https://youtu.be/AjXYi4HSCNA
We will be doing Rite II and you can follow along starting on page 355 in the Book of Common Prayer. The of Common Prayer (BCP) can be found here. The Psalm for this morning is
Psalm 106:1-6,19-23 found on page 741 in the BCP. The readings are Exodus 32:1-14; Philippians 4:1-9 and Matthew 22:1-14.
A Meditation for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son, we hear in our gospel reading from Matthew this morning. But the invited guests all have excuses as to why they cannot come, mostly wanting to continue in their daily routines except some guests who actually kill the slaves who deliver the invitation. Then the king destroys the murderers and sends out his slaves to compel everyone they find in the streets, both good and bad, to come to his feast.
But when the king comes in to the banquet he discovers a man not wearing a wedding robe. The king asked him to come in from the streets but when the king discovers he is not dressed appropriately, the man is speechless and the king sends him into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
As we all know, there are many texts in the Bible that are very hard to interpret. This is clearly one of them. Not only does the king and his invited guests exhibit violence as the guests murder his slaves and the king takes revenge, but the king also binds up a man who has been called out from the streets but is not wearing the proper clothes.
As I was reading this text I could not help to reframe the final words: but when the king came in to see the guests he noticed a man there who was not wearing a mask and he said to him ‘Friend how did you get in here without a mask?’ I’ve been in stores recently all bearing signs on the door saying you must wear a mask inside the store. And yet when I go in, I see folk not wearing a mask.
Wearing a mask is an act of charity so that you don’t receive an infection from me. And yet some folk find wearing a mask an abridgment of their civil liberties. In the church we are called into a community where we take care of one another, a community that looks to the interests of others before we look to the interests of ourselves. I find wearing a mask is hard and makes it difficult for me to breathe. But I can limit the time I am in the store so as not to have to wear the mask longer than I need to.
For many are called but few are chosen Matthew ends his reading today. We are all called and in this time we are called to live in a world plagued by a pandemic. None of us are exempt and many of us have died. And when we do re- gather in the church, and we will, we will be asked to wear masks. Your leadership is even now thinking about how we will handle the possibility that some folk may not want to wear a mask.
We can and we do want to go about our normal tasks much like the invited wedding guests in our parable. I’m quite sure none of us would resort to violence in order to avoid a wedding feast. But not wearing a mask is a form of violence as we put the health of others above our own desires.
We have all been invited to a wedding banquet. That banquet is meant for all of us. Forgive me but I cannot help reading our texts every Sunday absent the lens of the pandemic. The man without a wedding robe is thrown into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Every morning when I wake up, I wonder if I have been thrown into the outer darkness and when this pandemic will end. I worry about those I love and all those who are taking care of us in these times. And every day the sun comes up and I know you and I are in good and very loving hands.
Please remember all those on our prayer list this week found here or in the Good News Daily found here.
The Rev. Bambi Willis
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Sermon from the Bishop's Chapel
The Rev. Joie Baker
Chaplain, St. Margaret's School, Tappahannock
The written version can be found here.
The YouTube version can be found here.