Today’s gospel reading is troubling. I think it’s a good spiritual discipline for us to remember that the gospel can be difficult, and sometimes finding the “good news” is a bit challenging. That’s one of the reasons we have to look at scripture as a whole so that we might get a more complete picture. Have you ever been left out of an event that you really wanted to attend? It brings up all sorts of unpleasant memories for me about not getting invited to sleepovers and parties when I was a kid; or not getting picked to play on a team. Worse yet, is getting invited, and maybe even going to the party but knowing that you’re only there because someone’s mom said they had to invite you; or being picked for a team because the gym teacher said so. That’s an even worse feeling I think, because you know you don’t belong, you know you don’t have the skills, or the status, to be there. I have thought a lot about this parable over the years. It seems pretty clear that the parable is condemning those who are rich or who have status because of their refusal to come to the wedding banquet. Jesus would have been telling this parable perhaps as a way to let the religious leaders of the time know that maybe they had better up their game a bit; that just because they were in charge, didn’t mean that they were going to inherit the kingdom of God. Those who do come to the wedding feast are not the rich or those in power. Being gathered from the streets I imagine they are all sorts of people that have been living on the margins of society. The king brings them into the feast in honor of his son. The banquet itself would be a symbol of status and favor, and being invited would elevate the status of the guests. So the king provides food and drink to his guests, and perhaps even supplies the wedding garments for them to wear. But there is this one guest who is eating and drinking but does not have a wedding garment, which results in his expulsion from the banquet. As I think about this guest, it seems to me that perhaps this guest chose not to accept and wear the wedding garment; much like the child who gets invited to a party where she doesn’t feel welcomed so she doesn’t eat birthday cake or sit with other kids, or the child who doesn’t have the skills to play on the team, I wonder if this guest chose to not belong. Perhaps he felt like the cost of attending the banquet was too high, as if he would owe the king something. Perhaps he didn’t feel worthy enough to be there, and couldn’t accept the garment; we are told that both good and bad were invited, and in Matthew’s gospel there is a lot of talk about who is in and who is out; perhaps this guest is one of the bad people who might be planning harm against the king; we don’t really know what the backstory is there. What we know is that the story makes us uncomfortable. It makes us uncomfortable because this invited guest is thrown out of the banquet into the darkness. Maybe we wonder what we might need as a wedding garment in order to be invited to the king’s banquet. As I think about what one might need in order to be a member of the banquet, a member of God’s great banquet, I return to the great commandments to love God and love one’s neighbor. These are both choices that we are presented with throughout our lives; one of the characteristics of the king in the parable is that he continues to invite. I truly believe that Jesus continues to invite us to love God and our neighbor for all of our lives; and our psalm today and our lesson from Isaiah as well, seem to say that God is continually inviting us into relationship with Him and with others; that even in the darkest places, God will continue to offer God’s love to us, even if we chose to reject him. I think perhaps this wedding guest made some bad choices; somehow he chose not to wear the wedding garment, which I think could be love. When we choose against loving God, we are certainly in the darkest place possible. It is a choice. And perhaps for a time, we need to be in the outer darkness so that when God invites us back into the banquet, we might be ready. The lesson here for me today, is that when I feel as though I am separated from God, it is a choice that I have made. Somehow, I am not acting in love towards God or my neighbor, and that is a very isolated place to be. God will always extend the garment of mercy and love so that I might choose to wrap myself in it. We aren’t worthy to be invited to the banquet; but it is the king’s gift of the garment of mercy and love that makes us worthy. May we choose to wear the garment today.