October 11, 2020: Clothing for Worship

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Gospel lesson for today shares two parables of Jesus regarding weddings. The first has to do with invited guests not showing up and the host sending his servants to invite anyone they can find. The second parable has to do with inappropriate dress on the part of one guest. The first parable has been the subject of many sermons presented and understood without much difficulty. The second one, however, has been a troublesome passage for many.

It seems almost cruel and unjust to judge someone simply for how they are dressed. Is it really a big deal if the person wasn’t dressed to expectations? These verses are about much more than clothing. William Barclay’s commentary puts it this way: “The way in which a [person] comes to anything demonstrates the spirit in which [they] come.”  In other words, it isn’t so much the outer appearance that is important but, rather, the inner attitude. The idea of not wearing an appropriate wedding garment would have shown a lack of respect for the host. This parable was Jesus’ way of saying the guest was being impolite.

So what might this mean for us? How did you prepare to enter into God’s presence for worship today? What level of expectancy did you bring, or did you come with expectations needing to be filled? Think in terms of what you bring to worship, rather than what you’ll get out of it. The attitude you bring is the wedding garment you wear. If you bring an open heart and mind as you enter, God will touch you in some way through this time of worship. And when the service concludes, God doesn’t stay in this space, but God’s spirit dwells in you as you go.

Dennis Rohn, retired pastor

New Philadelphia, Ohio