Made One in Christ

2020-10-04 – Year A – Proper 23 – The Rev. Dcn. Steven Edwards
Isaiah 25:1-9; Psalm 23; Matt 22:1-14

O God, our refuge and strength, true source of all godliness; Graciously hear the devout prayers of your Church, and grant that those things which we ask faithfully, we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

 The Lord loves us, His creation; and desires for us, that which is the release and covering of peace and full joy. 

The full power of life is in Him and He grants Himself to us. He calls us as a people of His own. He calls us, each one into a kingdom that is now and forever. His kingdom, (though it) exists as part of His creation, it is not so much a place / a locality, but (is) life itself, ever expanding, glory upon glory.   Satisfaction in life, limited not merely to sustenance desires & needs of living creatures; but exceedingly, and to the fulfillment and deliverance of our souls, by / into the endless resource of His blessing. That which He gives freely to all who choose to answer His calling. God has made a way for us. Since the beginning of the time of man, God has revealed himself. He walked and talked with them in the Garden; we know of His words to Noah and the leading of Abraham and Moses and David and all the prophets of Israel (Hebrews 1) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

God speaks (to us); His only Begotten Son, lives! Jesus calls us having walked among men, and has opened the way, for all men. He, being one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, imparts himself, his righteousness, the mind of Christ for us and unto us. Life in Him, is true godliness; He in us & we in Him. He is the way the truth and the life. Jesus prepared the Apostles, directly by leading, teaching, miracles and prayer. Following his passion, death and resurrection (from the dead), he showed himself to them, confirmation of all that he taught; and fulfilling of the prophetic word concerning him.  He knows the mind of man, and led their understanding by direction and example. He spoke at times in parables, challenging the minds, revealing what was before them, yet often unseen. He opened their hearts & minds in preparation for the power that would come once the fullness of the Holy Spirit anointing was with them. 

Jesus was building His Church, to be his loving Bride. His Church would be the power and authority of his Name on the earth until his return. Speaking to Peter, he said Matthew 16 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 

Christ continues in our midst in the teaching and reteaching of His words; (and) the witness and experience of the Apostles, whom He empowered.   John 15:5 Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing

In Isaiah we hear, what I found as a loving devotion unto God by the prophet; from his intimate experience with God and his heart for the people. Our souls, I believe are nurtured and refreshed as we draw near to God and know his love. Hear & meditate upon this expression of love and hope found in our Lord. Draw aside with me granting your heart & soul; rest in him, as I share this devotion from Isaiah, alongside that most familiar, Psalm 23:  

Isaiah 25 Lord, you are my God;
    I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things, You are my shepherd, I shall not want

For you have been a stronghold to the poor,            In our Collect today, we prayed, O Lord
    a stronghold to the needy in his distress,                You are our refuge and strength
    a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;  

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples  He shall feed me in green pastures
    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
    of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

He will swallow up death forever;                     Even though I walk thru the valley of the shadow
& the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, of death, I will fear no evil, for u r with me
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.

Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
   This is the Lord; we have waited for himSurely your goodness & mercy shall follow me all
   let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” The days of my life and I will dwell in the house of    th                                                                          the Lord forever                          

So, you can see that the Lord works all things together for your good. He is building His Church in you; Glory be to God for the blessing of His people! He is calling you, He is equipping you, empowering to receive and share the love of God, which shall prevail and triumph in every circumstance. He shall never leave you nor abandon you. Remember & trust the Lord, He says abide in my and I in you!

In our Gospel today, Jesus shared a parable comparing the Kingdom of Heaven to a King who called a wedding feast for his son. The king invited all the people who had promised him their loyalty; but they refused the Kings invitation, putting their own affairs, self interests above their promise, their covenant. Now can you imagine? And can you see the correlation to the Hebrews being called into the establishment of the Kingdom of God in Jesus?

It will be ( It’s) the grand(est) event of the Nation (divine) kingdom, the talk of the town; and have you heard, each and every one of us, we’re all invited; the wedding banquet of the Prince, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords. The Bride, the Groom, (the Church) and all the people, family and friends, “the dress”, those shoes, the tuxes, the flowers, the decorations, the music, the dancing, the blessing the bride, the sense of joy & anticipation. Aren’t weddings the happiest, that greatest/the best of all celebrations! A wedding is full of honor and glory and joy and welcome. Marriage is a sign of tender affection, love, a desire to please, bless, fulfill, promise, hope and the future. Everyone loves a wedding! But wait, for some oh no, worries: what can we wear, how can we make the time/get ready/ what arrangements, what do we have to bring or contribute; what cost to travel or enter to gain, the gift, what’s the perfect gift for the Bride & Groom, what form of blessing? (Who will be there, what shoes to wear, what if someone has the same dress?)

Well, you know what happens, those whom were first invited, refused to come, rejected him, would not listen, would not change their path, their plans, choosing to continue on their own shortsighted way and self-interest. Failing to give honor or due consideration; defying the authority of the king and his generosity; the penalty for their defiance was their lives.  So the king opened his expanded his realm & the joy of the wedding to all who would honor and accept his gift. Everything was prepared, the work was done, the sacrifice had been made, the cost fulfilled. So, again we see the correlation to the true kingdom in the opening of salvation to the gentile world, those who would be made worthy by their acceptance of the gift. 

But as well follow the parable to the end, it becomes a little trickier. Shamefully I admit, that I was more troubled and shocked by kings reaction to the one at the feast without the wedding then I was by the destruction of those who refused. But, we must remember that salvation, just as the wedding feast has a great cost. The garment of righteousness, necessary to participate in the kingdom of heaven is Jesus. He is the only way

Salvation is in the hands of the Lord. Even I may say in the voice of the Lord: Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden; and I will give you rest. He has opened the way He, is the garment of our salvation, the wedding clothes, garment of righteousness, the evidence of acceptance/admittance.

Jesus says everything is ready, I have borne the cost, expense, the suffering, the sacrifice,  made the ready/provision, everything is ready; just come and partake of the goodness (of the kingdom) be a part of my joy, my love given for you. Would you deny me, will you turn away? 

Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the lamb. God calls us into union with / unto Himself in our Lord Jesus Christ! Let us with our whole heart rejoice in Him, sharing His love with all who hope in Him and accept His loving provision; He will except your sincere love.  Come taste and see that the Lord is good!

2 Peter 1  3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

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