There’s an underrated story in the Gospels that gets very little attention. That story is; The Parable of the Wedding Feast. It is featured only in Luke and Matthew with slight variations from one another. Matthew’s account simply contains more detail. The point is well taken from both accounts, however, and I will be using Matthew’s version. I want to focus on Chapter 22 verses 8-14.
8″ Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.”
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
This is a very important story regarding inclusion, and there are many others among these. Jesus often speaks of giving the
“lowest” among us the highest position of honor. But, do we ever really actually do this? I would argue a vehement “no.” This is a rarity. I’ve seen loving conduct by believers and I have also literally seen homeless people walk into an EV Free church and go completely ignored. They were not invited to join in, they weren’t even addressed or acknowledged, the church members who noticed them seemed to look away uncomfortably hoping they would just leave. Maybe they had made a mistake by walking into the church or onto the church property. Maybe they were looking for handouts…they wouldn’t get any from this congregation. But, the overall moral of this story sweeps across more than socio-economic issues and I’ll explain why.
The Parable of the Wedding Feast is incredibly important in regard to current social issues happening within the church today. The concept of LGBTQ inclusion or acceptance continues to remain at the forefront of church hot button issues. But, what does this story tell us? We see a king invite specific people to a wedding banquet and they refuse to show up. In Luke, the invited guests make excuses as to why they cannot come.
Do we not understand that there are LGBTQ brothers and sisters who WANT to come? They want to worship and live out their relationships with Christ. They want to be open and find acceptance and love, but they won’t find that in many churches. After all, they aren’t invited. But aren’t they? They are the ones who desire community and fellowship and yet are barred out with ultimatums by the church. Rather than listening to the stories of these folks and where they are coming from, they must first be made to adhere to church principle. But, is that what happens at the banquet in Matthew or Luke? No! There are no stipulations for them to come other than the desire to actually be there!
I’ll say it again; the ones invited don’t want to show up. The ones who were never invited and, who now are invited, come and fill the wedding hall and participate in the party and celebration; “The good and the bad,” describes Matthew. The king orders his servants to invite “anyone they find” …one could say, “anyone who wants to come”, since the original invitees didn’t contain the desire to do so.
We should be careful when we bar out or gay, lesbian, transgender, etc. brothers and sisters from our midst. They may be the very ones called to participate. Let us take note of the rest of the story and let us take note of “many are called, but few are chosen”. The ones who actually desire Christ are those who are chosen. Don’t be like the many.
To my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, I am continually praying that you find community within the church. Please do not give up. I have found it through the PCUSA and there are so many others who have as well. Please respond to your invitation and do not let others rob you of your seat at the table and rob you of what you have in Christ.