But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
John Wooden was a basketball player and later head basketball coach at the University of California at Los Angeles. He won ten national championships His teams won a record 88 consecutive games. He had his choice of players. The players UCLA recruited were the best of the best, having been part of winning successful teams. When these star players showed up for the first day of practice, Coach Wooden sat them down and very patiently taught them how to put on their socks and shoes. He got down to basics, telling them that if they get their socks on wrong, with a crease or fold in the wrong place, it would harm the team. He taught them to double tie their shoes so that they could play on, not leaving their team without their presence.
As Christians, we need to get down to basics, and Jesus reminds us of that today. We have to take time to remind ourselves of basic Christian responsibilities, to prepare ourselves so we show up well presented at the King’s feast. Let’s cover a few of the ways we should prepare ourselves.
In the early Church, some believers thought that one of the gifts of the Spirit, the ability to speak in tongues, was particularly special. They often flaunted that ability and saw it as a point of pride. St. Paul was quick to correct them. He criticized them because their everyday words were ruining the unity that Christians ought to have. He said: “Some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you. Your meetings do more harm than good.” It came down to this – they couldn’t control their own tongues. They used the words they knew from birth to gossip, slander, and to create disunity. What did the Spirit gift of speaking in tongues matter if they could not control their own tongue? No Spirit gift is more important than the Christian love and the respect they were to show for each other. We all are tempted especially when there are stresses, and we try to figure it all out. We continue to face the challenges the early Church faced. Getting ready, preparing for the King’s feast, includes our dressing our thoughts and words in love.
Several years ago, someone close to me contracted cancer. He ended up losing one of his lungs. It reminds me of the end of 2011, we were on our last lung in this parish. We had little to nothing to sustain this parish but for a few months to a year. I had asked one thing only – that we make a great act of faith and put our trust and belief in God, that He would provide. We did, and we did it together. It happened, God moved many hearts and caused miracles to happen. We did no extra fundraisers. Yet our coffers were filled and we invested in many things – spending more than we had in years we ended up with more in the jar. The oil did not run out, the jar of flour was filled. The man who ended up losing a lung met that challenge with perseverance, joy, and faith. So too we who are preparing for the King’s feast. We are called to act with faith above all else, to wear and show trust in God and His provision. A grain of faith dresses us for the King’s sumptuous feast.
Like the Acts Church, we are all learning to dress. We are all in the process of getting ready so that we may be welcomed at the King’s feast. Those members of the Acts Church did not always agree. Like those at the feast, they were rich and poor, people of every background and color, yet they overcame by sacrifice, in communal worship, fellowship, joy even in challenges. Setting aside all we arrive ready for the King.