Sermon from 28th August, 2022,
based on Luke 14; 7-24
The text we have in front of us comes to us in a watershed moment of church history and
the history of the world at large, where we face a down-grading of faith experiences. It
comes to us at a time where church and religion is regarded as not really important. It is
spoken in a time of history where congregations struggle to grow, and some facing the
terrible reality to close their doors. This text comes to us, when people easily say to you:
“people are not really religious.” It speaks into concrete situations where we hear people
say, well footy and sport has become our Sunday religion. This moment of our history has
become a time of exile of our people and a time of disenfranchisement and oppression that
has been manifested in forms that we might not have expected.
In view of these observations, I would like to draw your attention to the “banquet theme” in
the text. Now, the Jews had a series of ever -recurring conventional pictures of what would
happen when God broke into history and when the golden days of the new age arrived.
One of these was the picture of the Messianic banquet. On that day God would give a
great feast to his own people. It is of this banquet that the man Jesus spoke to was
thinking. When he, spoke of the happiness of those ho would be guests at that banquet, he
was primarily thinking of Jews, and of Jews only. He had nobody else in mind, because for
the average, orthodox Jew gentiles and sinners would not find a place at the feast of God.
In the parable the master stands for God, and the original invited guests stand for the
Jews. Throughout their history, they have been looking forward to the day when God will
finally break in. Now that glorious moment for the banquet they were looking forward to has
arrived. They have been invited, but in the end tragically refused to attend the banquet.
The refused God’s invitation and they made all sorts of excuses and left his table empty.
Then the invitation went out to go and find and invite the gentiles, and outcasts and those
who found themselves living on the peripheries of life.
The parable then, suggests that, due to Israel’s sinfulness and disobedience, God has
rescinded his original invitation to the messianic banquet, emphasising instead that the
kingdom of God has been reserved for a new community: a reconstituted Israel composed
of a faithful remnant of marginalised Jews, as well as faithful members of the Gentile
community. They are now to be included as an important and valued part of the diverse
Jesus movement, as a foretaste of the inclusion to be manifested in the future kingdom.
The church today is a manifestation of that messianic and heavenly banquet, and of
course an perpetual invitation of all people to that banquet. It is both fulfilled, here with us,
and at the same time evolving. And we are here as it were, every Sunday or wherever we
celebrate our faith re-enacting this. It brings us to that very critical and crucial juncture of
considering whom to we find at this banquet. And of course, what is our presentation of
this banquet. Has it become such, that people don’t even recognize it as a banquet
anymore, and therefore don’t bother to vigorously “go out” to deliver invitations.
For this to take place, the church needs to take seriously the directive of the banquet host
in Luke 14 and ‘go out quickly into the streets and lanes and compel them to come in’ so
that God’s house may be full. Now is the time to go beyond ourselves and find those
disenfranchised on the beaches and lakes of current day history. Now is the time to
announce the banquet at the dissipated fields of footy and rugby, and all those odd places
where we fear to tread.
I want to borrow today from that famous speech of Winston Churchill’s passionate pledge
to fight in seas, oceans, hills, streets, and beaches — to “never surrender.” And I want to
say to you perhaps as I have never done before, that the Eureka moment for the Church
has arrived. Now is the time when we will have not to fight them on the beaches. Now is
the time to “go out and find them on the seas, oceans hill, and streets of live. Now is the
time to “never surrender”.
We should no longer let soldiers lie defeated on the battle fields of this world, battlefields of
exclusion and disenfranchisement. We can’t leave them in broken family structures. We
can’t leave them in the slumps of drug abuse and waywardness. We cannot leave them in
houses of abject poverty and lack. We cannot leave them in the dark alleys of loneliness
and despair. We must find them in in camps and settlements where they are marked as
refugees and outcasts.
The time of the banquet is here. We must find them in our schools and in our institutions of
learning. We must find them in jails and centres of reformation. We must seek them
In this moment of our disenfranchised history, we must no longer be recognized by
slothfulness or by apathy. We can no longer be identified by mediocrity and lack of energy.
But we will see a miracle unfolding when it is achieved by our valor, by our perseverance,
by our perfect discipline, and by faultless service. The banquet will be full when we use all
our skills and resources and embrace it with unconquerable fidelity.
I can also tell you that there will be times when we try hard and be beaten back. There will
be times when we lose faith and be frustrated. Yes, there will be times when we want to
give up and throw in the towel. But the instruction to “go out’ is too compelling, and
therefore we will never surrender. The banquet is ready and we will find them in the
streets, and we will find them in the slumps; we will find them dormitories of indifference
and conflict. We will look far and wide for the marginalized and broken and oppressed in
the ghettos of despair. We must not give up for the moment is too critical and crucial. And
we shall not surrender.
Fr. Mario Hendricks
28 August 2022