MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on being ready. What does feasting, weddings, disasters and our to list have to do with it? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time or the 18th Sun. after Pentecost to find out. Please read Matthew 22:1-14. #GreatChristianPreaching #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #Ready.gov #Katrina #Tornado #GetReadyHereHeComes
For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 10/12/2014 The 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time or 18th Sunday after Pentecost.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 22:1-14.
Do you recognize this sound? [National Weather Service Test Alarm for Television]
It is the alarm that the National Weather Service sends out prior to alerting us to the next wave of storms and dangerous weather that is working its way toward wherever we are. For those of us in the Midwestern United States, we most often hear this alarm before a Tornado Watch or a Tornado Warning.
When I hear that sound, I think of the tour I took in Waveland, MS and in Bay St. Louis, MS, ground zero where Hurricane Katrina hit. I went on five service trips to that region. It looked worse than pictures of the war zones I have seen after WWII. At least in the WWII pictures, there something left standing.
In Waveland, MS, every home was wiped off its slab foundation and sent into the bay near the Gulf of Mexico. The only building left standing, really, was the Town Hall, and that was moved off of its foundation and had nothing left in it: not one desk. The safe at the bank in Bay St. Louis was washed out into the bay. No one has any idea where it is.
These are the same images that my son Luke and daughter Hannah saw when they went to the devastation that the tornadoes left in Joplin Missouri. It is similar to what was left in Washington, IL two years ago and in Oklahoma a year before that. There have been so many of these devastations in our history lately that the federal government has set up a website called “ready.gov” to help you do four things.
Ready.gov wants you to be informed, make a plan, build a kit and get involved. We should know what types of evacuation plans and precautions the community we find ourselves in is going to take in times of disaster. We should have a plan based on some sound principles on ready.gov. We should build a kit for survival, like a flashlight and radio with fresh batteries, water, some dry food, a first aid kit, etc. that are listed on the web site. We have one in the basement because that is where we should go when a disaster is heading our way.
This readiness is a far cry than what I used to do for disasters. I remember as a kid in the 1970s standing on my front porch looking at that freaky green sky coming our way. We had a basement, but I cannot ever remember going there once when we heard the local sirens go off. I distinctly remember members of my family making light of it as if a disaster was never going to hit us. Tell that to the residents of Joplin.
I remember my family members being too busy with a job they had to get to. They didn’t take cover because the everyday affairs of life were too pressing. My brother once rode his bike to work at the Mall through a rain storm that had tornadoes in it. Tell that to the teachers that saved children in those Oklahoma tornadoes.
Even today, there are those who think I am “overreacting” when I ask everyone to come into the basement and wait out the storm. Tell that to hurricane Katrina victims who decided to wait out the storm in Waveland, MS because they had done so many times before.
As Christians, people who take Jesus Christ very seriously, as the Savior of our Souls, the King of kings and Lord of lords, our lives are very much like disaster preparedness. “I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” Have you ever said that? Those are important words. We do not know the day, nor the hour when the Lord will come again, but we know he is coming. It could be just after you listen to this reflection. It could be way after you die, but we say we believe them and that we are living a life that is ready for the coming of the Lord.
We say that the judgment is a day that we look forward to because we have confidence that the Lord will be able to tell we have faith and take us up to the new heaven and earth. I am not sure if I could say, “yes,” if I were to ask myself if I was ready, really ready.
There are people who look at us Jesus people and shake their heads. They say, “Oh, that god stuff is good to know as children, but I think I am over it now.” Or, they say, “I have always meant to read my Bible, forgive my siblings, pray everyday, work at the soup kitchen, make a mat out of plastic bags for the homeless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, visit the sick, tend to the poor. Yes, I have always meant to do it, but there just isn’t enough time in my hectic schedule.” Or, they say, “those Jesus people are just weird. Why do they bother themselves with all that spiritual mumbo jumbo stuff anyway? They act as if there really is going to be a judgment.”
For those of us who are serious about such matters, we are like people walking around in a sandpaper shirt to them. Yet, we know because this discussion has been going on for millennia, that we will not be believed. Jesus is talking about it here today in Matthew.
This third parable from the “Controversy Section” of Matthew has Jesus basically calling out the Scribes, Pharisees, Chief Priests and the leaders of the people. He is talking about the things to which these good devout folks have dedicated their lives. It is no secret that the parable describes a King and a great wedding banquet. These concepts are rampant through the prophets. Esther, Amos, Genesis, Samuel, Judges, Chronicles, all talk about the different type of feasts. The Messianic feast is huge in our understanding of the lion feasting with the lamb when the New Heaven and Earth are constituted after the Messiah comes again.
Jesus knows what he is saying and the leaders of the people of Jerusalem do too. He is saying that the King, or God, has invited the Chosen people to the feast. They took him lightly, were too busy with daily tasks, or were outraged and mistreated the prophets and Son the Lord sent. It would be easy for us to get on our high horses again this week and think, “Yep, they should have known.” But Jesus says something more. He says that the King will send his servants out into the streets to get us, the Gentiles, and bring us into the family, but even we will not have wedding garments on.
So, the message this week is not very comforting. Or, maybe it is. We could think that it is a condemnation of us and our lives. We could get mad, stomp our proverbial feet and walk out. Or, we could see it as a Messiah who is calling lovingly to his flock to not judge others, but to be ready themselves. What is that you have been meaning to do to be ready for Jesus? It is now time for you stop making the list, and do it. Forgive someone this week. Read a verse from your Bible everyday. Give the first three minutes of your morning for a little prayer. Be kind to someone who is aggravating you while you are driving on the road. Smile at everyone. Speak patiently to your children or to your parents. I am sure that you could make a list of things large and small, but let’s live our lives like the wedding banquet is tomorrow. Amen? Amen.
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