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Hallfold 9 October 2005 (with evening repeat at Spotland)

Psalm 23
Phillipians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

In the Psalm and Matthew we have two King images

  1. The Shepherd - leading , providing, protecting etc, (Sheep wandering all over Whitworth Road this morning could have done with one!) - Yet also uncomfortable images - dark valley, table laid in the presence of enemies.
  2. King who puts down rebellion with great force - drags in new followers - throws out those who don't dress properly. -Is this God? - Most commentators say yes - but gloss over the goury bits and focus on the wedding feast as an example of grace - all are welcome, the good and the bad all they have to do is dress properly - show respect. Hints of second half of Psalm 23 -dark valleys, table spread before enemies.
  3. Alternative (very minority) reading - contrasts God's kingship with the violent ways of earthly kings - the God of mercy and forgiveness does not treat people in this way. One (and only one) suggestion is that the Jesus figure in this story is the man thrown out of the wedding feast - speechless, naked, rejected. It is a reading worthy of further reflection - but not for this moment.

Assuming that the King is to be identified with God then this is a story about authority - story of political rebellion - implications of which are known - God demands loyalty, obedience - feast is open to all - but response is required - response includes clothing - garments of salvation, robe of righteousness, (Is 61:10) - putting on Christlikeness.

We wear different clothing for different circumstances - it can change the way we feel - present ourselves - our image, our confidence - What is appropriate clothing for the Kingdom? Col 3:12- "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness (gentleness), patience ... Above all clothe yourselves with love" From the vineyard - justice, righteousness - from the wedding feast - obedience, radical hospitality,

Jesus demands a response - chief priests rejected, plotted to kill - the invitation for you is to follow, to put on garments of praise, to worship joyfully, to clothe yourselves in Christlikeness and live out lives through which the good news of the Jesus Christ is proclaimed -

If that sounds daunting be reminded of Paul's encouragement to the church in Philippi "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus"


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