Today we consider another of Matthew’s ‘Kingdom of God’ parables. Even though on the surface this parable is a bit perplexing, with guests being welcomed and excluded seemingly at random, it does suggest that everyone is invited to be part of God’s kingdom. No-one is excluded, and the invitation is free. No-one is accepted simply on the basis of merit or good works or worthiness. God continues to invite even when we make excuses. That’s good news!
But today’s readings also include part of Paul’s letter to the Philippian church, where he is encouraging he community to let go of fear and to live a life of trust. Paul writes here ‘Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.’ This is very simple theology of course, but it does contain one of those gut level truths. God hears us. God can be trusted. Bring everything before this God; tough things, painful things, our sadness and our joy, and do it with thankfulness, because God can be trusted to not let us down. In fact, this is the path to peace and joy rather than living with anxiety.
When Paul calls us to ‘rejoice always’, he’s not suggesting a Pollyanna worldview, that tries to pretend tough things don’t happen in our world. Joy is never alone, and its companions are often pain and fear. There are times when Paul’s letters show us his own experience of both. But for Paul, writing here, joy isn’t the absence of pain or fear, but the presence of Christ, the one in whom he places his hope and trust.
In peace, Mother Lynda