The feast is ready, let’s not turn down the invitation!
Imagine you have been invited to a big banquet but decide not to go. The banquet takes place anyway of course, only without you. You simply miss out. The Chief Apostle had some interesting thoughts on this in a divine service in São Paulo (Brazil).
At the end of the divine service, which took place on 4 August 2019 in the Brazilian capital of São Paulo, the Chief Apostle retired the long-serving and esteemed District Apostle Raúl Montes de Oca. The leadership of Brazil has been taken over by the Argentinian District Apostle Enrique Minio. The two District Apostle Areas Brazil and Argentina have been merged into one and are now named District Apostle Area South America.
The congregation’s anticipation was great, and Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider did not let the congregation down. “This divine service applies to you. It is all about your relationship with God. He wants to strengthen and comfort you, and He wants you to be prepared for the return of Christ.” The most important message of this divine service is, “God loves you!”
The parable of the great supper
The focus of the Chief Apostle’s sermon was the invitation to the great supper. “Then He said to him, ‘A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, “Come, for all things are now ready”’” (Luke 14: 16–17). This Bible text is a parable of Jesus, the Chief Apostle said, and began to set it in context. A man planned a great supper, most likely a wedding banquet. When it was time to eat, he sent his servants to tell the invited guests that everything was ready and that they should come. “But all the guests said they could not come,” the Bible text states without further ado. So the man quickly invited other guests. He wanted his house to be full.
The Chief Apostle said that the parable of the great supper was an image for our fellowship with God. The parable still applies to us today. “We have been chosen by God. He has invited us to enter into His kingdom as firstfruits and to take part in the marriage supper of the Lamb.” This is our future. Jesus calls us: “Come! Everything is ready!” This invitation applies on many levels, he said.
Everything is ready
“Already here on earth everything is ready,” the Chief Apostle said. For the Son of God did after all send the Holy Spirit and His Apostles. Everything we need in order to have fellowship with God has been provided for us: the rebirth, the proclamation of the word of God, the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins, the sacraments. Everything is ready, the Lord could come. “Now we understand a little bit better what it means when the Lord calls us!” The Chief Apostle said that the Lord will not wait only because His congregation may not be ready. The Lord is not dependent on us human beings. “Let’s not turn down the invitation as the invited guests did at the time.” The return of Jesus Christ is our top priority. His return could happen any day, any hour. “All you need to do is allow yourself to be prepared whatever your situation may be.”
Allow yourself to be prepared
Everything is ready. God does not depend on our goodwill to accomplish His plan. He will not wait until we are ready. He loves us and is patient with us, the Chief Apostle said, and wants to also invite additional guests to take part in the marriage supper. That is why it is important that we respond to His invitation as follows: “Come, Lord Jesus, come!” Nothing in our lives is more important.
It is not enough to just attend the divine services or to receive Holy Communion. “We must put on the wedding garment,” the Chief Apostle said, in other words, we must put on Christ’s nature. We should learn to accept His help, the Chief Apostle suggested. Faced with difficult situations we sometimes tend to think that God has abandoned us, but only because He does not help us as we expect Him to. “Let’s never forget that it is God’s first goal to help us to remain faithful to Him.” He strengthens us through His word, through Holy Communion, His servants, and our fellowship among one another.
“Honestly, everything is ready so that we can be saved. Let us come to God without delay. He will give us salvation!”