Armodoxy for Todaym
The guests who were invited to the Great Banquet, Jesus tells us, all had excuses to refuse the invite. (Luke 14). There is no reason to question the sincerity of the invitees, and we can assume that each excuse was a legitimate reason not to attend. It is possible that some came up with an excuse only to stay away, while others truly had another event to attend. Either way, in the end, they did not attend the gathering.
An old Armenian tale has a man approaching his neighbor to borrow his neighbor’s rope. The neighbor says, “I’m sorry, but I’m using my rope to tie the water.” Puzzled, the man asks, “How can you possibly tie water with a rope?” To which, the neighbor replies, “If I don’t want to lend it you my rope, I can use any excuse that I’d like to!” Indeed, each person has an excuse. The point of the parable is not to question the reasons, only to note that they each refused.
It is interesting to note that none of the invitees even tried to attend. Their excuses were all before the banquet began. It would have been quite another story had they entered the banquet and then made the decision to leave, or not attend. Perhaps the hors d’oeuvres were not tasty. Or, the aroma coming out of the kitchen was not pleasing. Or, even worse, they tasted a sample of the food and they realized they made a mistake. They had all made their decision to not attend on information they had that wasn’t pertinent to the banquet itself. On reading the parable, St. Luke gives the context of its delivery as, “One of those at the table … said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” So, it is obvious, that the Banquet is the favored place to be. Yet, Jesus, sets up this scenario where the invitees refuse before attending or tasting the meal. They didn’t even get to the hors d’oeuvres, they just refused to attend.
Issues of faith are personal. We can all chose to accept or reject an invitation to faith, to a religion, to Jesus or to God. More often than not, rejecting faith comes about because of preconceived notions that we have about God, and faith. It is popular to dismiss these items by saying, I am spiritual, not religious, but in fact, this is merely a play on words. Taking some time to delve into faith, as you are doing by following this series, gives you a fresh look at things. Armodoxy is about the ancient Christian Faith, but through the lens of our lives today. Armodoxy is about celebrating the life that God has given us by understanding our relationship to a loving and caring Creator. Quickly, we begin to realize that God is not as He is presented in the movies, but God is one who is interacting with us, because we are interacting with Him. That is, until you accept the invitation, you are outside of the Banquet. You can’t possibly partake of the meal if you’re not there. The invitation is given by God. While you may have your doubts and fears because of what you’ve been told God is, Armodoxy offers you a seat at the table to witness for yourself the beauty of the Kingdom.
At the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church, just before partaking in the Holy Communion, an invitational hymn is sung, ճաշակեցէք և տեսէք զի քաղցր է Տեր = Partake and see that the Lord is sweet. Tasting and finding the sweetness of the Lord can only be experienced when sitting at the Banquet.
We continue on our Advent Journey tomorrow, as we look at what happens after we have participated in the Great Banquet. I hope you’ll join me.