Today we celebrate the holy forefathers of our Lord Jesus Christ, the patriarchs and the prophets and the other holy men and women from Adam and Eve to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to Moses and Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel up to John the Baptizer, the last of the Old Testament prophets. When we read the Old Testament, we should do so to learn not only of the history of God’s involvement with us, but also to learn the many ways in which we were being prepared for the coming of Christ. Yes, we know that the prophets told us of His coming, from the “Suffering Servant” mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah, and of His miraculous birth, also found in the book of the prophet Isaiah, who foretold that the Virgin would conceive and would bear a child, whose name would be called, “Immanuel” – that is, “God with us.” But if we read and learn, we may also recognize in Abel a prefiguring of Christ the Good Shepherd, who was the first to offer sacrifice pleasing to God, for which he became the first martyr. We might learn of the faith of Abraham that led him to depart from his homeland to the place where God would lead him, to give him a home, even as we are called to leave this world behind to follow where God leads, to our true dwelling-place with Him in His kingdom. We would see the sacrifice of our Lord in the offering of Isaac, we would see the faith of Ruth and Rahab the prostitute, and many, many others, all of whom can teach us about who we are and who we are meant to be as followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, Whose coming fulfilled the promise God made to Adam and Eve even as they were being forced to leave Paradise because of their sin, that a Deliverer would come to set us free from sin and death. As we draw near to the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, we do well to prepare ourselves, to learn, and to live as we should.
In the reading today from the Gospel according to St. Luke, we hear of the man who prepares a great feast, and sends his servants to gather those who had been invited to take part. But they respond by making excuses as to why they cannot attend; and so the host sends his servants out again and again, to gather the uninvited as guests, even using force to compel them to enter, until the hall has been filled; but, in his anger, he declares that those who had been invited would now be refused entrance to the feast.
What shall we make of this? Do you realize that a feast has been prepared for you this very day, and that all who desire to take part and have prepared themselves will be fed with the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ? What excuses have kept you from accepting the invitation today? It is true, no one will compel you to come today – no one will be forced to come to the feast today, nor next Sunday, nor on the Feast of the Nativity itself – but why do you not come? Why do you refuse the hospitality of our God, Who desires that we share in His rejoicing in His Son, our Savior? Brothers and sisters, a day is coming when we will make excuses to not attend His feast, and find that we are no longer welcome. Let us not harden our hearts, and so risk being denied a place at the great banquet of the kingdom. Let us prepare ourselves with fasting, confession, repentance and prayer; and let us come to the Mystical Supper, especially on the day we celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into our midst, remembering also that He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Let us strive by the grace of God given to us in our baptism and in the Lord’s Supper to be ready for the day of His return, that we may celebrate and rejoice to behold Him.
Our King and Savior is drawing near! Come, let us adore Him.