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9 December 2016

Friday 9 December

[Matthew 22: 1-14]

Be Prepared to be Wholehearted

The party season is upon us. Office parties, children’s parties, church parties, formal and informal. Even some wedding parties, as Christmas weddings become more popular. Does this fill you with delighted anticipation or dismay?

People’s responses to party invitations are very varied. Someone I know always answers any invitation, however formal, by saying, “I’ll only come, if I don’t have to dress up”. But it’s not just about us. As a Bishop and Archbishop, I’ve been privileged to attend some of the Queen’s Garden Parties. They are special occasions to which ordinary people are invited in honour of their work and service to the country. There is a dress code – morning dress or uniform – and people conform to this out of respect for the Queen and for one another. Someone insisting on turning up in their usual jeans and trainers would soon be shown the door.

As our reading shows, some people have always wanted to respond to God by dictating their own terms. Will we reject his gracious and generous invitation to be citizens of his coming Kingdom? Will we give only a grudging acceptance but insist we do it ‘Our Way’? As he comes to us, holding out his hand in loving invitation, may we be ready to join unconditionally and wholeheartedly in God’s great party.

George Bernard Shaw is reputed to have received an invitation from Buckingham Palace with the words: ‘AT HOME’. He replied, ‘George Bernard Shaw – AT HOME’.

 

For further reflection, please read Tom Wright – Advent for Everyone, A Journey Through Matthew, pages 52-56