The open invitation - Hope 103.2

The open invitation

By David ReayThursday 6 Oct 2016LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Matthew 22:1-10

1 Jesus also told them other parables. He said, 2 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

4 “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ 5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

7 “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. 8 And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honour. 9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. (NLT)

Over a hundred years ago, a man was walking along a street at Portsmouth harbour in the UK. This was a major naval base and the area had a rough reputation. The man came to a church and saw its sign advertising its various services. His attention was drawn to a handwritten sign pinned to the structure. It read, “No prostitutes or sailors allowed.”

That would have ruled out many of the locals venturing anywhere near that church. The man concerned was so aggrieved by the message of exclusion that he founded what became the Mission to Seafarers, a group still operating today.

Our churches are not to be places simply for people who have no rough edges. Jesus’ ministry was very much to the marginalised. And the parable today shows us that it is the so-called outsiders who get in and those who imagine themselves insiders are left out.

In terms of our opening story, it is not as if the church condones prostitution. But it can’t be seen to reject prostitutes either. Acceptance is required of us even as we acknowledge that acceptance doesn’t inevitably mean approval. It is only as we accept others as they are that they have a chance of becoming who they are meant to be. After all, that is how God accepts us.

David Reay