Good Shepherd Lutheran

Just Be There – Matthew 22:1-8
In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, we see how God offers invitations and how humans respond to them. The first-invited wedding guests received the invitation but rejected it, even killing the messengers. I don’t know about you, but even if I get an invitation I don’t want, I wouldn’t kill the mailman. The second group of wedding guests, however, was invited, showed up in wedding robes and celebrated with the king.
So, what’s the difference between the first group and the second? It isn’t that one was more deserving than the other. The first-invited guests received the king’s invitation and favor and so did the second-invited guests. They were all invited. They were all favored. None of them had done anything to earn or deserve an invitation. It was just given.
The difference wasn’t that the king liked one group more than the other group. His sole motivation was to share his banquet. He wanted everyone to share in his joy and celebration; to be a part of his kingdom. Both groups were given the same opportunity.
And the difference also wasn’t that some guests were good, and others were bad. There was no distinction made based on behavior, beliefs, attitudes, or morals. In fact, in the second round of invitations, the king sends his servants into the streets with the specific instruction to “invite everyone you find.” And they did. They “went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad.”
So, what’s the difference then between those who weren’t worthy and those who were? There’s only one thing that distinguishes the first-invited guests from the second-invited guests. Presence. The second group of guests showed up. The first group didn’t. That’s the only difference.
The key to living our life in God is to just show up and be present. Unfortunately, that’s a lot easier said than done. To be present is difficult work. Think how difficult it is just to be present to another person, even the ones we love. And if we’re not doing that with the people in our lives, we’re probably not doing it with God.
Instead, too often we go our separate ways. We’re too busy, too tired, or too distracted to give ourselves and our full attention to others. There’s work to be done and money to be made. We’re convinced we have better things to do and better places to be. That’s what the first-invited group thought, too. But what they didn’t realize is that there’s really no life outside the banquet. There’s no life outside the kingdom.
To show up and be present is to be worthy before God. We don’t have to earn or prove our worthiness to enter the banquet. We just have to show up, be present, and discover for ourselves the worthiness God has always seen in us.
So, when God invites you, don’t hesitate. Just be there.