Welcome + Worship + Witness

The Rector: The Restaurant is Open

The Second Sunday after Trinity
21 June 2020
10.30 Morning Service

Revd Nicholas Mercer

One of my guilty pleasures is reading restaurant reviews

Whereas, I am not inclined to spend money going out for dinner, I love to read about them

I am a particular fan of Jay Rayner and Grace Dent   

As one might imagine, the last three months have been particularly challenging for restaurant critics and their readers

Not least because all restaurants are closed

However, as well as restaurants being closed, so too are the Churches

But, by an extraordinary co-incidence, we may be able re-open on the same day 

And, in a sense, that puts us in the same category

And at first, I was rather aggrieved that Churches were in the same bag as the local restaurant

But, in the light of the reading this morning, I have rather changed my view

The parable this morning is about a great banquet prepared for us by God

If you like, God is inviting us to eat in his restaurant

And this is no ordinary meal because it is described as a “great dinner”

Furthermore, no one has to pay

Not surprisingly, when a great dinner has been prepared, large numbers have been invited

However, rather than accept this wonderful invitation, people have made their excuses and stayed away.

As you might have guessed, this is a story which is not to be taken literally

As with all parables, there is a heavenly meaning to an earthly story and, in this case, the great banquet is a metaphor for God’s grace

The word grace comes from the Latin gratia and means “the bestowal of favour on another”

In the context of the New Testament, this is the favour and kindness shown to us by God and the incarnate life and death of his Son  

God’s generosity is constantly alluded to in the Gospels

Perhaps the best known story is that of the prodigal son

Where the Father shows his love and generosity equally to both his prodigal and loyal sons, despite all that the prodigal has done

In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, we learn that God’s grace is given to all who labour in the vineyard, irrespective of when they were hired

And at the crucifixion, the dying thief on the cross is welcomed into paradise simply by acknowledging God grace with almost his last breath on earth

God is both remarkably patient, forgiving and generous at the same time

At first sight this may appear to be rather unfair, but this does not bear closer inspection

The newly baptised child is just as deserving of God’s grace as the long suffering and serving Church warden?

There are no half measures – you either receive the sacrament or you don’t

You simply have to respond to the invitation

Which brings me back to the restaurant

The invitation to join God at his banquet which we heard about this morning

Is an invitation is for everyone

We are all invited and all we have to do is respond

However, as we learn from the story, people still make their excuses

We all know what this looks like in the context of the Church and we have all been those guests who have turned God down

But the thrust of this story could not be more-timely as we come out of lockdown

Despite the restrictions, we are all, once again, invited to the feast

As from the 5th July, it is open to each and every-one of you -the choice is yours

We have been invited by Jesus himself, who was the first, and possibly the finest, restaurant critic of them all