In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
That’s a common excuse nowadays too. People are so busy at their country properties or at work that they give little thought to how they walk their lives. And they ignore, neglect, even reject their King. Or maybe they’ve given it lots of thought. But their choices in life are to do what they want to do, to neglect, even to reject their king. Either way they do not walk as those who are wise, but those who are foolish.
Now, we look around us and we see our congregations dwindling. Sometimes we ponder this and get nervous or worried. Sometimes we merely sneer and say, “The Church needs to change, to update, to get with the times.” And there is always lots in any congregation that needs to change. For as a human organization we are sinners who cling to our foolish thoughts and traditions. There are many things that become traditional in a congregation from the time of service, the coffee hour, dinners, teas, choirs and greeters that are not God given, but merely human traditions. The Church does not need them to still be the Church. Those things can, and do, and sometimes must change. But when we have those thoughts that, "The Church needs to change," usually people mean: the Church’s teaching must change and the Church’s practices based on those teachings must change. And such thoughts flaunt our “wisdom” in the face of our King. Repent.
The Church in North America is certainly in a time of decline because we are unthinking, unwise, trusting in our wealth, so busy with our jobs, our entertainments. We can provide for ourselves so what do we need God for? After all, things have never been so rich and good in our country as they are now. Medicare takes care of our health. The government even can pay for taking care of you when you’re old. Cradle to grave, the government takes care of me. And in between there are lots of jobs these days that pay lots of money. And with both yourself and your spouse working, you have far more than we ever had in the days when only one parent worked. We’ve got it all, even those of us who struggle a bit financially, trips, properties, toys galore. Everything but the time and energy to actually enjoy them.
So why is the Church in decline? We have no need of God. We are rich. We can provide for ourselves. Or so we tell ourselves. But here on the verge of a possible double dip recession, with global economic uncertainty, is that really true? Will we continue to be so rich? Pension plans are evaporating everywhere. Government programs are getting too expensive to keep running. Governments have massive deficits. European countries are declaring bankruptcy because of this and we are not far behind.
Once our riches are pulled away, will people stop being so unwise, so distracted, so unthinking? Will the Holy Spirit awaken in them a spiritual hunger again? Will our children who have been raised in the faith, and claim they believe but are so distracted with the cares and worries of life, be drawn back if we lose much of our wealth? We shall see. For this is a major cause of our being unwise toward God. If that cause is gone will those who claim to believe come back? Let’s pray they do.
However, the rest of the unwise do not simply ignore the call of their King. They actually mock, mistreat, and attack the King’s messengers. They are hostile toward the King for they do not love Him nor His Son. And this then should be our prayer for our children: Lord, bring them back, let them come in response to your weekly summons to your banquet. And while they still ignore You do not let their hearts fall into complete unbelief so that they actually mock and mistreat your servants. Lord keep a place at Your table for them. Do not let their place be given to another!
For you see, in our unwise ways, we ignore the Lord and reject His call to come to His banquet where He gives His gifts of grace in the Lord’s Supper, in the feast of His Word, in the wedding robe given you in the daily remembrance of your baptism. And He will give your place to another. This parable then gives us the marks of how you know a Christian. A Christian is not merely someone who says they believe in Jesus. For even the devil believes that He exists. The mark of a Christian is one who believes that Jesus came, suffered, and died for THEM so that THEY have the forgiveness of sins. And this faith is evidenced by a craving for that forgiveness, which causes you to respond to Our King’s weekly call to His free banquet table. This is the mark of a Christian. A trust in Jesus that draws you to His banquet. Without attending His banquet regularly you are considered foolish by our Lord. And your place at the table may be given away. For when you ignore His summons, your faith goes cold. And eventually if you keep ignoring His summons you will fall into unbelief. And unbelief leads not only to physical death, but the eternal death and flames of hell, when the King sends out His angelic armies to destroy those who spurn Him.
So look carefully at how you walk. Do you walk as one who is wise? Or as one who is unwise? Our Lord judges wisdom this way: know thyself. Know your own sin. Own up to it. Repent of it. And in wisdom and faith do not ignore His summons to come and be fed the free forgiveness of sins that His banquet provides you. For the banquet set before you today is replete with everything that fills you with the Holy Spirit: psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, the word of God, sung, prayed, proclaimed, absolving you of your sins. But not only that, this banquet literally feeds you with the Word of God made flesh. Christ your king’s Son, lives in you, and you in Him. For not only are you a guest clothed by His Father for the banquet, fed by Him, but this feast is the Church’s wedding to our Lord. As a member of the Church by Holy Baptism, you are clothed you with the imperishable wedding clothes of eternity, cleansed of sin and its decay and filth and blindness and death.
So come. Desire this marvelous feast which makes you whole!
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock