O LORD, who never failest to help and govern those whom thou dost bring up in thy stedfast fear and love; Keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1 St. John iii. 13 & St. Luke xiv. 16
Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
INCLUSIVENESS - Our Gospel message today is all about including those who were least worthy. Those that the Host solicited were the outcasts of society. The wisdom of the day thought that the condition of these outcasts was due to sin and a curse. Theses people were the "unclean." They were excluded by society from every aspect of community - worship, employment, companionship, etc. The Gospel story is also about the rejection of our Lord's message by the well-to-do people - those who rejected the Gospel.
A friend recently told me of a conversation concerning an individual whose actions were clearly contrary to the Gospel, and a mortal sin. In speaking to his colleagues about the matter, he was told "we must be inclusive." This is when inclusiveness is applied wrongly. Inclusiveness has become so important to some that they have essentially thrown the Bible away in order to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and welcome. Read the collect for this day. It asks God to, "make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name." A perpetual fear of God, and declaring mortal sin as being acceptable because of the current norms of society, do not mix!
If one reads the story carefully, they will see that EXCLUSIVENESS is also a part of the story. Everyone who was invited to the supper, but found some reason to refuse, was excluded. The Host said, "For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper." Hard words - but Just Words. The Lord issues his invitation to all, come to me, follow me, obey me and share my Joy and Peace. Those that do come are expected to obey their manners at the table. Those who refuse the invitation to pursue temporal pleasures are to be excluded.
In today's society we see a very significant decrease in church participation in the affluent Western World. Like those of the Gospel story, many say they are just too busy to come to the feast. Others don't even attempt to offer excuses; they consider the invitation and offer irrelevant. They have no concern for the Host or his invitation, because they have grown up in a world where God is not important. Our collect today emphasizes that those who have grown up in the fear of the Lord will be governed by him. He will encourage and direct them to do the right thing. They will be attentive to the Bible, Prayer, following the Summary of the Law, Justice, Mercy, and the invitation of the Lord to join him at his feast. That feast, the Lord's Supper, occurs regularly in my part of the world. The invitation is there to all who will come - just as they are. May we always have that fear and love of God so as to hear his voice beckon and respond to his call. Amen
1 St. John iii. 13
MARVEL not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
St. Luke xiv. 16.
A CERTAIN man made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
Scripture from 1928 Book of Common Prayer