Last May, the State Dinner in Honor of Queen Elizabeth was the hot invitation in Washington. The guest list included people you would expect (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) but also a number of notable surprises, such as sportscaster Jim Nance. In a radio interview, Nance spoke about getting a phone call from the Protocol office giving he and his wife a head’s up on what to expect. The whole night was amazing, he said.
Rewind a few thousand years. After arriving in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus told us that His guest list included a lot of surprises – including me.
In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet he tells us, So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
I like that part of the story. We are all invited into God’s kingdom, and all we need to do is say yes. How cool is that!
But there’s another part of the story. The king notices that one of these recently-invited guests was not wearing wedding clothes. And the king un-invites this poor may, saying:
“Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are invited, but few are chosen."
I wrestled with this for a while. This poor guy was out in the streets minding his own business and now he gets humiliated because of poor wardrobe choices. How rude!
This morning I realized: saying “yes” is not enough. Everyone is invited. But if you say “yes” there are expectations that come along. Showing up is not enough.
If Jim Nance arrived at the Queen’s dinner wearing shorts and a tee-shirt, they would have thrown him out. And he would have been outside thinking “I blew it! I had an invite to the coolest thing in town! They told me what I had to do – and I blew it! Weep weep. Gnash. Gnash.”
There’s a cost to saying yes. An expectation on how you should act. This week I’ve read about real transformations that are taking place in the lives of Wilsonian and Rhymes with Kerouac and think to myself – I am heading down a path where I will not be chosen.
He is telling me what I need to do – and I am blowing it. And that is truly sad.