Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dressed to impress?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis, Rochester on the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity


 “I’m sorry, you’re not dressed correctly.


You’ll have to leave,”

says the tall, thin, waspish man at the door

as he gives your dress a thoroughly disapproving look

 as if you’d come dressed in a bin-liner

and wearing a traffic cone on your head

 rather than what you are in fact wearing.


“Why?” you say, confused.

“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?


I’m perfectly decent.”


“But not for here,” comes the reply, “goodbye!”


Has this ever happened to you?


In what circumstances do you think this would happen?




We’re used to dress codes.


 These range from black tie dinners

to “No shoes, no shirt, no service” at the local pub.


 Police officers would have no respect at all

 if they dressed in tutus and we would be rather shocked

 if the bishop had turned up at our Patronal Festival

 wearing a Hawaiian Shirt and Micky Mouse ears.


There’s always a debate about school uniforms.


Some will say that they’re expensive, ugly and hard to wash.


 Others will say that they are smart,

set a good standard

and give a sense of corporate identity.


 Every day, school children around the country

are sent home to change because

they have not put on the uniform

 that they are required to wear.


Their act of trying to be an individual

results in them being punished by being sent home.


So is there a dress code for Heaven?




According to Our Lord, yes there is!


Remember, that when Our Lord speaks of a Wedding banquet,

He is referring to the Kingdom of Heaven.


Here at this banquet,

we find a man standing before the king

who is not wearing a wedding garment. 


The king says

“Friend, how earnest thou in hither,

not having a wedding-garment?


And he was speechless.


Then said the king to the servants:

Bind him hand and foot,

and take him away,

and cast him into outer darkness:

 there shall be weeping

and gnashing of teeth.”


This seems rather unfair!


What was wrong with what the man was wearing?


Was it not smart enough?


What if he could not afford a proper wedding garment?


Surely at a celebration like this,

 a man should be free

to choose what he wears.



If it was such a celebration,

you’d want your guests to feel comfortable wearing

what they wanted to wear,

wouldn’t you?


Is God going to cast us out of heaven

for wearing Adidas

 instead of Nike?


Will we find ourselves in Hell

for wearing Wippel’s

rather than Watts and Co?




Let’s just look a little closer here.


Our Lord tells us that

 the man was speechless before the king.


If he had any excuse,

then he surely would have said something.


Why is this man so silent?


Why has he no excuse?


He has no excuse

precisely because there is no excuse.


It is the custom at such weddings

 for the King to provide the wedding guests

with wedding garments.


This man has clearly refused to wear it.


Does it really matter?

Of course it does!


We’re talking about a king here!


 If a king gives you something to wear

then you wear it.


Not to do so is out and out disobedience.


This man has accepted an invitation

from the king to the wedding feast of his son,

a time of joy and celebration,

and has refused to wear a garment

representing precisely that joy

and celebration.


It’s an insult.


Just like a school uniform,

this wedding garment represents

the desire to be part of the community,

part of the moment.


It shows the intention of sharing

in the joy of the bridegroom and bride.


 This man has disregarded

the day of the bride, groom and King

in one fell swoop.


What does this mean for us?




In the Revelation to St John the Divine,

we read of many people

being given white robes.


In particular, Our Lord Jesus says to the Church in Sardis,

“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis

which have not defiled their garments;

 and they shall walk with me in white:

for they are worthy.


He that overcometh ,

 the same shall be clothed in white raiment;

and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life,

 but I will confess his name before my Father,

and before his angels.”


Our sin defiles our garments.


Does this mean that we are in danger of being cast out of heaven?

In the Revelation again,

we see with St John

“a great multitude, which no man could number,

 of all nations, and kindreds,

and people, and tongues,

stood before the throne,

and before the Lamb,

clothed with white robes,

and palms in their hands.”


And who are these?


St John tells us,

“These are they which came out of great tribulation,

and have washed their robes,

and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”


Our sins are indeed washed away

in the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.


But we do need to make sure

that we put on the wedding garment

that we are given by God.


This garment is earned through

obedience to God’s command,

by naming Him as the king of our lives

and of our hearts.



This is a garment which

we must accept and put on

even if we think it doesn’t fit,

or is not the right colour

or doesn’t flatter our figure

or go with our eyes.


 This is a garment that we only accept

by committing ourselves wholeheartedly

 to God in Christ Jesus Our Lord.


It is a garment which means

 that we belong to God and belong with God,

rejoicing and singing and being truly happy

 into Eternity itself!


Where is your wedding garment?


Is it still in the wardrobe?

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