Being Loved

I was reading Matthew 22 today, and there is a parable in the first 14 verses which seemed a bit odd. Jesus is talking to the leaders of the day, the Pharisees, and he tells them a story about a king throwing a party, and all the invited guests refusing to come. I understood that analogy – the invited guests were the Jews, and many of them were messing up their gift of a relationship with God.

So, in the story, the king sends his servants out into the streets, and they invite everyone who they meet to come to the party. I understand that bit too – after the Jews (well, some of them) messed up the whole ‘people having a relationship with God’ gift, Jesus made the gift available to other people (the ‘dirty gentiles’ – that’s most of us!)

But then there’s something which seemed very odd. In the story, the king arrives at the banquet, where all those people who have accepted the invitation are sitting, enjoying the party, and he sees someone who is inappropriately dressed. The king is so angry, he throws out (in effect, banishes him to hell). Now, what does that mean? Surely, if you invite people who live on the streets to a party, you have to expect them to be inappropriately dressed? This seems a little unfair.

I did some research, and this is what I think it means: God invites everyone to come to him. Like in the parable of the prodigal son, he is a loving father, he will do everything possible to meet us where we are, he wants to save us. (Remember, in an earlier blog, I explained how when the son says: “I have sinned before man and before God,” he is actually quoting what Pharaoh said when he wanted the plagues to stop – he wasn’t sorry, he just wanted things to get better. But the father met him anyway, and that love, that willingness of the father to save the son even when he was continuing to behave badly, was enough for the son to realise that he couldn’t earn his way back, he simply had to accept what the father/God was offering.) So what does the bit about the clothes mean?

Well, I think, that yes, God wants everyone to come to him, and he has done everything necessary for us to know him. However, we also have to accept that. Now, apparently, in the days of Jesus, a king would have provided appropriate clothing for a guest (a bit like when you turn up at a posh restaurant, and they have ties for you to borrow because you didn’t realise there was a dress-code). I guess the clothes would signify the willingness to change, to become what God wants us to be, to let him alter us. Therefore, although we can all come, unless we let God change us through his love, then that is not enough. If we truly are responding to God’s love, rather than using it as a sort of ‘get out of jail free’ card, then we will let that love change us. We will be pleased to wear the garments appropriate for a party. If we don’t, we have missed the point. Which would be worse than never acknowledging that great love in the first place.

I think that’s what it means anyway. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Thank you for reading.
Take care this week.

Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels, which are available in bookshops and Amazon.
Anne writes a weekly blog – why not sign up to follow?
anneethompson.com

Bible Blog 12 – I Finished Chronicles

I have now read to the end of 2 Chronicles. Some bits were boring, but I’m glad I did it, as it gave me a real overview of that period of Jewish history, and also an insight into the character of God. The books are basically lists of kings, giving their name, who their father was, and any major events. They finish each brief biography by saying that everything else the king did is recorded in different books. (We have some of the other reference books, in Kings and some of the prophets – like Isaiah. Others are lost.)

The thing is, as you read, you see how the kings kept on ignoring God. There would be a good king, the temple would be repaired, the laws upheld – and then his son would take over and we would read, “… who did evil in the sight of God”. It was a recurring theme. A king would take over, he would introduce new ideas about where/how to worship God and introduce other gods, the people would follow his lead, God would allow bad things to happen (like defeats in battle or famine or illness). Over, and over, it kept happening. Then, at last, there would be a king who tried to return to the rules God had given in the past, he would rebuild the temple, get rid of foreign gods, tell the people to observe the Passover. And God would forgive the people. Over, and over, whenever they returned to him, God gave them another chance.

This was interesting. As a mere reader, an unattached observer, I became fed up with the Jewish people. When, yet again, a bad king took over and the people followed him and ignored God, I was very irritated with them. As I read those words, “who did evil in the sight of God,” I found I was groaning. Oh no, surely not again. Then, when after a few generations, someone turned back to God, realised things were wrong, tried to do the right thing, I kind of wanted God to say no, stuff it, you didn’t learn last time, now it’s too late. Because that’s what I would do, after so much deliberate wrong-doing, after they continued to ignore what they knew from the past, after they stopped following God yet again. I would run out of kindness, tell them they’d blown it. But God didn’t. Every single time they came back to him, whatever had gone before, God accepted them.

You really have to read the whole of 1 and 2 Chronicles to get a feel of what I’m saying, which takes some discipline, but at the end, you are slightly amazed by the patience of God. It’s like a pre-runner to the story of The Prodigal Son, where a boy is shockingly rude to his father, shames him publicly, messes up big time – and then the father takes him back as soon as he returns. Such love. Love way beyond what I am capable of, almost beyond what we can even understand. This is my God.

*****

anneethompson.com

xxx

Love

by Anne E Thompson

No more,
Do I carve big hearts in the sand.
Neither do I scribble our names entwined.
Nor do I keep your photo’ under my pillow.
Nor chant your name like a rhyme in my head.
I do not whisper about you with friends,
Nor blush when I hear your voice.
I do not loiter in the places you may pass,
Nor practice smiles for you before a mirror.

Yet still,
My heart thrills at the sound of your laughter,
And I watch the clock when your arrival is near.
I am content when I manage to please you,
And I watch your face when you drive or read.
I learn every wrinkle that creases your smile,
And I bend to your moods as they change.
For though time may mellow and age us,
My love for you remains
The same.

(Reposted for Valentine’s Day)

 

 

anneethompson.com

xxx

For Valentine’s Day

Love
by Anne E Thompson

No more,
Do I carve big hearts in the sand.
Neither do I scribble our names entwined.
Nor do I keep your photo’ under my pillow.
Nor chant your name like a rhyme in my head.
I do not whisper about you with friends,
Nor blush when I hear your voice.
I do not loiter in the places you may pass,
Nor practice smiles for you before a mirror.

Yet still,
My heart thrills at the sound of your laughter,
And I watch the clock when your arrival is near.
I am content when I manage to please you,
And I watch your face when you drive or read.
I learn every wrinkle that creases your smile,
And I bend to your moods as they change.
For though time may mellow and age us,
My love for you remains
The same.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Image 16

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Goodbye

Goodbye By Anne E Thompson

I went to say goodbye,
But you had already gone.
Just your scrumpled body was there,
Empty.

Your skin was cold,
And rubbery,
And one eye was slightly open,
But unseeing.

There were no sounds of you,
Or even smells.
The air was calm,
There was not even a tingle of you.

I squeezed your arm,
It was solid and unmoving.

I tried to speak,
To think you words.
But I had nothing to say.

You knew that I loved you,
You had hugged me many times.
I know you were pleased with me.

So I am left,
With a chasm of missing you.
Remembering happy times,
And few regrets.

I went to say goodbye,
But you hadn’t waited.

There was nothing

You needed to hear.

Love

Love

by Anne E Thompson

No more,
Do I carve big hearts in the sand.
Neither do I scribble our names entwined.
Nor do I keep your photo’ under my pillow.
Nor chant your name like a rhyme in my head.
I do not whisper about you with friends,
Nor blush when I hear your voice.
I do not loiter in the places you may pass,
Nor practice smiles for you before a mirror.

Yet still,
My heart thrills at the sound of your laughter,
And I watch the clock when your arrival is near.
I am content when I manage to please you,
And I watch your face when you drive or read.
I learn every wrinkle that creases your smile,
And I bend to your moods as they change.
For though time may mellow and age us,
My love for you remains
The same.