Ever go to an event and miss the memo about style of clothing to wear? Happened to me last winter. I showed up in a full suit to a room of blue-jeaned and flannel shirted folks. I looked a bit silly. Got some sideway looks to.
I'll be officiating a wedding this Saturday. The usual invitation to attend was sent to all the family guests. Usually, these invites have specific guidelines for attire, gifts, and RSVPs on how many will attend. The upcoming event will be an outdoor wedding and attire is to be town and country kinds of things. As a pastor, I have taken part in 30-40 weddings and have dressed in various styles. Blue jeans, shorts, tee-shirts, etc are what you would expect to see this Saturday. I toyed with the idea of wearing a full blown clergy robe. I then considered the heat index and made a new plan.
Honoring the host of any event is proper. Honoring the host let's them know you love them, appreciate them, and respect them. In that light, I will wear something that looks pastoral, yet celebrates the couple's desire. There are invitations sent to the entire world. These invites come from God and include specific guides on how we prepare to attend the big event. Not everyone abides by this invite and some ignore it all together. Take a look.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants
to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. “Then he
sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My
oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding
banquet.’ “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest
seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and
destroyed those murderers and burned their city. “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is
ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 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. “But when the king came in to see the
guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did
you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the
attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:2-14, NIV)
The love and grace of God is immeasurable. This grace is available to all. Nobody is too far away from the reach of God's gifts. After reading the text from Matthew 22, it appears that Jesus was explaining the ways in which God's kingdom unfolds. Servants invited, invitees declined, excuses were offered as to why they could not or would not attend. Retribution was meted out on those who shunned the grace of the host. The servants were sent again. This time the invitations were received with gladness. Imagine, the invitation describes where to go, what to wear, and what to bring. Imagine the one person mentioned in the text above. The one who jumped at the chance to come to the banquet but chose to snub the host's requirements. It would look something like me deciding to wear high church at a hillbilly wedding.
The following text from Romans specifies the way we honor our host. God desires a contrite heart
and a mind that acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord! We come to Him confessing and bowing to His glory.
But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of
faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your
heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe
and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone
who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (Romans 10:8-11, NIV)
Christians, disciples who follow Jesus, need to honor the host. It is God's party and we are the guests. Let's pay attention to the invite, attend to the guidelines offered, and be received with grace, mercy, and great rejoicing.