From Dean Hollerith: How Do We Make Sense of the Week We Just Lived Through?
Looking at the news from the Holy Land this past week, it's easy to ask: Where is God?
Dean Randy Hollerith has been asking the same question, not sure what to make of the heart-wrenching violence in Israel and Gaza.
In his sermon on Sunday, he took the Gospel passage from Matthew, which is a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s the parable about the king who threw a banquet and nobody seemed to want to come. Then, when a man who showed up in the wrong clothes, the king cast him out into the outer darkness, where this is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It’s not a pretty picture.
But Randy finds a way to make sense of the story, but also to apply it to this tear-soaked world we’re living in:
In the New Testament, putting on new clothing is often used as a metaphor for spiritual change. Paul uses this metaphor in his letters quite often. In his letter to the Colossians, he writes, “As God’s chosen one’s, holy and beloved, cloth yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
In this sense, responding to God’s invitation to come to the great feast, to be a part of the kingdom of God. Saying yes to the life of faith is not enough. We have to do more than just show up. We have to be willing to allow ourselves to be changed, to let go of our old life and to clothe ourselves in God’s life. We have to respond to God’s invitation by wrapping ourselves and our lives and kindness and compassion and humility and meekness and patience and love.
And then this:
The table is set. The invitations have gone out. Each one of us has been invited to sit at God’s table. If we accept this free invitation, then let us be willing to be clothed anew. Let us be willing to take off our pride, our ego, our self-centered preoccupations, and put on the identity that God has prepared for us. Because it isn’t enough just to admire Jesus. We are called to desire to be like Jesus.
So what are we to do in the face of the evil we have witnessed this past week? Where does our hope come from?
My hope comes from the promise that God’s kingdom will come. The broken world won’t always be this way. My hope comes from the Easter promise that in the end, sin and death are defeated. The promise that in the end, love wins.
What can we do in the face of all that we have witnessed this past week? It’s easy to feel quite helpless. We can’t stop the killing. We can’t heal the broken hearts. We can’t bring about peace in the holy land, but we can decide who we are going to be and how we are going to live. So let us clothe ourselves in Christ so that Jesus’ willingness to forgive others becomes our willingness to forgive, so that Jesus’ compassion becomes our compassion, so that Jesus’ love for the least and the lost becomes our love.