Thanksgiving Sunday                                                                                   Matthew 22:1-14

Everyone is invited to God's celebration.

China plates, silver cutlery, napkins, table, table cloth

Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. Matthew 22:9-10 (NIV)

As I set this little table, I think that you can see that I am getting ready for a banquet.  A banquet is a fancy meal where we put out all of our finest things in order to have that special meal. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and so Thanksgiving dinner is one of those special times where we might have a banquet at home and put out all of our special things. 

When you have a banquet or a special meal do we eat by ourselves?    Usually we DON’T eat those special meals by ourselves.   Usually, we invite people to our special meals. 

So who would YOU invite to your special meal, your banquet?

Most of us would invite those people we know or those people who are special in our lives.  There are all kinds of people that we would not think of inviting.  That is very common. 

But that is not what God is all about.  Today in the Bible, a king is having a wedding banquet and invites all kinds of people.  Jesus says that is just like God, god invites all kinds of people to GOD’S banquet. 

Did you know that?  God has a party, a banquet, and God has a banquet every week and God invites us to that banquet.  It is called Holy Communion.  God invites us to communion every week and he invites ALL of us because he wants ALL of us to feel good, to feel like we belong.  So God says come and that is a special invitation.

Jesus says that the invitation tells us all about God.    In God’s world, everybody is invited to the banquet because EVERYBODY is important to God. 

Today we will celebrate a special meal in our church.   This is a simple meal of bread and wine, or grape juice, but it is God’s meal, God’s banquet. 

Who do you think is invited to God’s special meal?   EVERYBODY.  That is good and that makes us glad. 

Today we thank God that we are invited.

March 16, 2014

Lent 2

Genesis 12: 1-4a

Psalm 121

Romans 4: 1-5, 13-17

John 3: 1-17

Theme:  the readings are all about the covenant.  In the Genesis reading, we have the initial covenant between God and Abraham.  The reading from Romans carries on the covenant theme by noting that by simply believing and following, God credited this as righteousness to Abraham.   The Gospel continues on the covenant trail by noting that the covenant comes through the son of God giving his life for the love of the world.

Object(s):  a copy of a financial contract

I have something here that is rather interesting and it is probably something you have not ever seen; this is a conditional sales contract.

Now, this conditional sales contract is an agreement between two people or two parties.  What happens with this contract is that the company who is selling a vehicle, agrees to give me the vehicle and I in turn, agree to pay money for the vehicle. 

So, with this contract, we agree on the sale of the vehicle.  The contract talks about what we exchange.   I get the vehicle and the benefit of driving the vehicle and the car dealer who sells me the car, gets the benefit of receiving my money. 

It may be difficult to imagine, but today’s Bible readings are all about a contract.   The Bible readings talk about the CONTRACT God has with US.  

WE have a contract with GOD.  What do you think is IN our contract with God?

The Bible tells us what is in the contract.   God starts the contract a long, long time ago with a man named Abraham.   God tells Abraham that God will be his God, will care for him, help him, look after him, and bless him with children and life.  That was God’s side of the contract.   Abraham’s side of the contract was simply to TRUST God.  That was it.

Many, many centuries later, a man named Paul reminded people that this contract between God and Abraham also applied to them.   Because they were descendants of Abraham, they were part of the contract with God.   Paul tells US, that the contract also applies to us today.

So, what is this CONTRACT that GOD has with US?

We understand through Jesus, that God STILL wants to be our God.  God wants to FORGIVE us and God wants to give us the GIFT of ETERNAL LIFE. 

And what does God want in return?  Simply our faith, our trust in the promises of God.  God says to us, “Here are the gifts!”  And then God simply says, “Believe what I have promised, have faith, trust me.”   God promises and God gives.

Then God says, “Go out and live in the promise, forgive others and make every day in this life, a day of heaven for somebody.”  

That is it!  That is quite a contract.   God gives us so much more than we can ever give God, but that does not matter to God.   God wants us to feel loved, forgiven and God wants us in heaven one day with God.