The parables of Jesus are rich in meaning and sometimes hard to understand. Yet, there are often short phrases or sentences that speak to us in a unique way depending on where we are in our life journey or even in our week or day.
As I was reading and reflecting on the Parable of the Wedding Banquet in Matthew 22, a phrase leaped off the page. In this parable, Jesus shares that the kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. Those who had been invited refused to come. They had other more important things to. The king responds by sending his servants into the streets to invite everyone to attend.
While I have often focused on the invitation piece to this parable, what struck me today was the response of those who were invited to attend. “They paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business” we read in Matthew 22: 5. They paid no attention to the invitation. They paid no attention to the reality of life around them.
How true is it that we don’t pay attention to the reality of God’s kingdom here and now? It is easy to overlook what is right in front of us. As I have had conversation with my spiritual director recently, she has shared more than once that simply rocking your baby at night can be a sign of God’s presence. The changing seasons, the sunshine, the laughter of children playing, the goodness of a friend or stranger, or even a brief moment of respite in a long and busy day can be signs of the goodness of our Creator.
This past Sunday, our Sr. Pastor at Meridian Street UMC, Rev. Steve, preached on the God who comes. God is already a present reality. It is God who comes to us, we just have to pay attention, open our eyes, and experience this presence. How do we do this?
How do we pay attention? Many of us have busy schedules and live over committed lives. One way to pay attention is to find the time to slow down and center ourselves upon the presence of God in our lives. Spend intentional time with God in prayer, in silence, in reading Scripture, in serving, in the garden, on a walk, or simply being with family or friends.
Pay attention today to how God is speaking to you and present in your life. Live with an expectation that God is present and slow down long enough to see God’s movement in your day. Receive this invitation to the great banquet of God’s presence that’s all around us every moment of every day.