The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

St. Giles’ Cathedral

Online Devotion

Sunday October 11th 2020

18th Sunday after Trinity

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul
Psalm 23: 1

Let us worship God.

The lesson is written in the Gospel according to St Matthew in the 22nd chapter.

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” 10Those 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, 12and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless.13Then 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.” 14For many are called, but few are chosen.’

The Word of the Lord; thanks be to God.

Hymn: The Lord’s my shepherd

The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want:
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green: he leadeth me
the quiet waters by.

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
yet will I fear none ill;
For thou art with me, and thy rod
and staff me comfort still.

My soul he doth restore again,
and me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
e’en for his own name’s sake.

My table thou hast furnishèd
in presence of my foes;
My head thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house for evermore
my dwelling-place shall be.

Text: Psalm 23

Stracathro
Charles Hutcheson 1792-1860

Reflection

One of the questions you are often asked as a minister – “What wedding disasters have you experienced?”

To be honest, I have not really officiated at a wedding which has somehow gone off the rails.

Of course, in this coronavirus season loads of marriage ceremonies have been adversely affected by lockdown, then limited numbers allowed to attend and traditional receptions off limits.

So it has been interesting to observe how prospective couples have navigated these waters. My experience has been that they focus more on the ceremony and their vows of commitment to each other

The parable Jesus tells here in Matthew’s gospel could rightly be termed a wedding disaster.

The worst thing that can happen at a wedding – no one who has been invited comes – excuses – worse – the servants of the king carrying the invitations are abused and even murdered.

Jesus employs hyperbole, vast exaggeration, in his telling of the parable.

Outcome is classic Matthew in that there is a reversal of what would be expected.

“Invite everyone to the wedding banquet” – remember – this is Jesus talking about what life is like when the promised economy which God will bring is a reality – the good and bad – all are welcome.

There is a contemporary hymn that captures this concept and offers a challenge to the Church:

Let us build a house where love can dwell

and all can safely live…

All are welcome in this place.

And just when we think we’ve got it – the sting in the tale happens.

One of the guests is ejected from the party by the bouncers. The violence is shocking and leaves us with a sense of shock. What we perceived as a parable of grace welcoming the marginalised and outcast turns into a nightmare of ‘wailing and gnashing of teeth for one of the guests.

Leith Fisher in his commentary on Mattthew calls it – “The wedding feast from Hell!”

What is going on here is not that the guest forgot to dress up – but that the host provides a special wedding raiment for the guests to wear and is horrified when this one guest has not accepted that.

The point of the story is that Jesus is telling the truth that God’s kingdom is one in which love and justice and mercy reign unhindered. They are the clothes you need to wear for the wedding. And if you refuse to put them on, you are saying you don’t want to stay at the party.

I often suggest readings to couples getting married – it can be hard for people to choose readings – Jesus doesn’t say – “blessed are you who are to be married” – or some such sentiment.

Often people will choose 1 Cor 13, Paul’s hymn to love.

Or the great miracle of grace at the wedding feast at Cana in John’s gospel.

My favourite – Colossians 3: 12 – As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience…above all, clothe yourselves with love.

A good reminder to wear the wedding garment. Amen

Anthem

Let all the world in every corner sing

Let all the world in every corner sing:
My God and King!
The heavens are not too high,
His praise may thither fly;
The earth is not too low,
His praises there may grow.
Let all the world in every corner sing:
My God and King!


Let all the world in every corner sing:
My God and King!
The church with psalms must shout,
No door can keep them out;
But above all, the heart
Must bear the longest part.
Let all the world in every corner sing:
My God and King!

Text: George Herbert 1593-1633
Music: Kenneth Leighton 1929-1988

Prayer

Let us offer to God our prayers:

Generous God,
we give thanks
for the richness of life;
for the beauty and wonder of the world;
for the care of those who love us;
for strength and hope
in the trials and difficulties of life;
for the gospel of the risen Lord,
and for his presence with us
through the Holy Spirit.


Conscious of your goodness to us in so many ways
we bring to you now our prayers of intercession:


We remember the nations of the world, especially today
Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Bring to an end we pray all war and strife; break down the barriers of race and creed,
that all throughout the whole world may live in peace.


Remember our country, we pray.
Bless the Queen and her family;
and guide all with responsibility at this time of global pandemic.
Preserve us as a people
from all that is degrading,
and raise us up to the righteousness
of seeking and serving your will.


Loving God,
we pray for all who are unwell in body and stressed in mind:
ease their pain, calm their restlessness;
give them such trust in you
that they may know
they are always in your keeping.


Bless all who care for them:
give them such trust in you
that they may win new strength;
and may their love and tireless patience
bring your grace and comfort
to all who suffer.


Gracious God, now in the quietness of our own hearts and minds
we remember all for whom we have a special concern this day:
our families and loved ones, wherever they might be in this wide world,
our friends and neighbours, especially those going through challenging times,
and all others for whom we especially care today.


We remember with thanksgiving
those who have died in faith,
especially those known and dear to us.
Grant us a living hope,
and bring us, when our days on earth are over, to share the joys of everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

O Christ, the Master Carpenter,
who at the last through wood and nails purchased our whole salvation,
wield well your tools in the workshop of this world
so that we who come roughhewn to your bench,
may be fashioned to a truer beauty by your hand,

Amen.

The Benediction

Be of good courage, render no-one evil for evil,
but hold fast to the good; honour all of God’s people,
and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the Communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you
and all whom you love
this day and for ever.

(Amen)

Organ Voluntary

Pierre du Mage Grand Jeu

CCL Licence No 980930
Streaming Licence 57837

The service was conducted by Rev Calum I MacLeod, and the prayers led by Rev Douglas A O Nicol

The hymn was recorded in 2001 by The Choir of St Giles’ Cathedral Peter Backhouse, Assistant Organist, Michael Harris, Organist and Master of the Music

The anthem was recorded in 2004 by the Choir of St Giles’ Cathedral, Peter Backhouse, Assistant Organist, Michael Harris, Organist and Master of the Music

The organ voluntary was played by Jordan English, Assistant Organist