“..for the hand of the Lord rests on this holy mountain..” ..in OT, with the chosen people nomadic, only fixed point to establish a meeting place with God was a mountain; high, close to heaven, majestic & dependable..steep climb to get to top, & eventually view of a lifetime, taking your breath away & there, to be given in return, His breath His life, His perspective on things.. ..this Church has inherited the title..sacred space, a meeting place with God..not only in this building for all its beauty, nor in tabernacle, nor in bread & wine..the fullness of His real presence is in you..did you hear that from behind your mask? your hands are His hands, washed clean with santiser & now with His divine grace, as He cleanses us from our selfishness, our addiction to control people, & even control Covid..
“..he will remove the mourning veil covering all people.. ..& me.. ; Lord have mercy “..he will wipe away the tears from every cheek..” ..my tears.. ; Christ have mercy “..he will take away his people’s shame..” ..my shame.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“..tell those who were invited that I have the banquet all prepared..all prepared for Mass, the Church clean & warm, the readings, the flowers, the bread & wine, the hand sanitiser & the seating socially distant..”come to the wedding”..come to Mass..”but they were not interested”..one went off to play golf, another had to taxi a son to football or a daughter to band practice, another working from home had a meeting on zoom, another was afraid of seating arrangements or whether everyone else here would be wearing face masks; many more had settled very well “thank you Lord” to a lived streamed Mass from Walsingham, Rome, or from the Abbey a mile away..or show a blue badge of disability, or the ultimate passport to staying at home, to profess underlying health problems..”but they were not interested”..“go to the crossroads in the village & invite everyone you can find, bad & good alike”..with the loss of Rev Catherine Reid, how many of you, especially those of you who profess be ecumenically minded, have sent an email or text to a parishioner of St Hilda’s or Holy Cross & invited them to this our wedding feast?..” & the Church “was filled with guests” ..guests or parishioners?..visitors or full shareholders?..from outside the fence, beyond our boundaries & battles, where, as we discovered last weekend, the tastiest blackberries are not those grown in our tidy allotment of a parish but those seen valued & tasted outside the fence, in overgrowth or undergrowth..wild & sweet..& those who make the best of wedding guests & come to Mass prepared, tidy presentable & punctual, because it is embarrassing in the extreme to arrive at Church behind the bride, or after the priest has begun the wedding feast/Mass..last Saturday, my sister made her Christmas puddings; traditionally she asks my nephew, currently working in China, & me here, to give the mix a virtual stir about 11am..a fine way of including us from a distance; like coming to Mass, to sit by your fireside & watch it virtually, misses out on the real presence, where those who risk being fully present give our bread & wine the taste of a lifetime every time we meet to greet, to stir, to break & to eat..home baked here daily.. ..& your sympathy for the man who wasn’t wearing a wedding garment?..poor lad, found a place in a quiet corner, not wanting any fuss; however, the king understandably noticed him..he stood out..the only people who were authorised to stand out were the real proper guests who stood out in their finery; new suit or specially designed dress, a beauty parade of the great & the good, literally a guest appearance to compete against..& woe betide the lady if that dress was remembered from great aunt Jemima’s golden wedding 3yrs ago..the smiles behind your face masks betray a truth..a tragic truth of lip gloss & tinsel.. ..& so, to prevent wedding feast being hijacked by a fashion show, a brilliant short liturgy took place to bring parity of esteem & equality of appearance..as you entered hall for wedding feast, you would find racks of white overgarments, impeccably clean & laundered, all in sections on rack to suit guests height..simply each guest took a garment & put it on over one’s best bib & tucker, & then entered hall for meal, parity of esteem & appearance..& poor lad who you thought deserved sympathy, warranted red card for two tackles, each worthy of a yellow card..first he ignored racks of wedding garments..not a free spirit but a sour disciple of non-compliance..& then his second yellow?..the king’s gentle compassionate enquiry “how did you get in here, my friend [my friend] without a wedding garment?” was met with silence..a cold dismissive refusal to dialogue on equal terms with a king..our king..we call it prayer, as you dialogue with your faithful friend..it would be like you turning up here without having booked..& then, when we gave you the benefit of the doubt & let you in to this meal of a lifetime, risking our own health in the face of your virus, you wouldn’t wear a face mask & self-sanitise..”many are called, few are chosen”..a wake up call to us..few of us here & now will be a recipient of the real presence of the Good Shepherd himself, whose track & trace is a work of love & mercy of a lifetime..we self-disqualify, not on a technicality but because he finds us comfortably self-isolating..in our Sunday-best & virtually distant.. [ 28thSun YrA Mt22;1-14 ]