The Wedding Banquet — Guest Post from Barbara Messner, interpreted in Australia

(wherever we live we can experience Matthew 22:1-14 as a call for listening and reconciliation and change in the relationships between indigenous peoples and those descended from colonizers)

Can I open my ears now to hear
the good news in this banqueting story?

Does the kingdom of heaven compare
to a king who is planning a feast
for his son when his wedding day comes?
Well perhaps that’s OK. We might say:
“The Creator is king, and the son
loves the world; so we’re called to rejoice
at the wedding of heaven and earth.”

Now might we be the ones who refuse?
We’re too busy or fully immersed
in demands of the workaday world.
Can we see there are ways we make light
of this too inconvenient feast?
Are the message or messengers killed?
Would creation recoil in despair,
bringing death and a city on fire?

Then new guests are brought in from the street;
good or bad, they sit down in the hall,
but it seems outer darkness awaits
the bold fellow refusing the robe
that the banquet provider supplies.
That’s unfair, let him choose what he wears,
surely people can live how they want!

Let me tell you a tale of this land
in the hope of some ears that will hear:

First encounters one-sided in pride
led to massacre rather than marriage.
Had the strangers approached with respect
and humility, ready to learn,
what potential was there for a feast
filled with tasting the other’s delights?

There were people with skin pale as mine is
crossing seas to arrive on this shore;
they were met by the elders of tribes
who had lived hand in hand with this land,
fifty thousand the years of their time.
The white strangers did not understand
these were wise ones, custodians of country.
Had they sat down to eat at their fires,
and respected their language and customs,
paid attention to story and dance,
then they might have seemed worthy to share
in the ways and the spirit of country.
But indigenous rights were ignored,
they were driven from land that was claimed,
guns were used against spears, men were chained,
nations sent from their place of belonging,
children torn from their families and culture.

Saying sorry belatedly happened,
but true meeting must start with respect,
and a humble request for the teaching
that might yet turn the tides of destruction,
keep the deserts and seas in their place.
Let us honour their bond with the land,
and their spiritual wisdom for living.
Time to talk, and above all to listen
with intent to discern what’s unspoken,
name the past, grieve the causes of sorrow,
seek forgiveness for all that is broken.
Then the kingdom of heaven invites
both to feast in new fruitful relating,
if we come with new vows of resolve,
and a heart for restoring the whole
for all beings in this ancient land.

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4 Responses to The Wedding Banquet — Guest Post from Barbara Messner, interpreted in Australia

  1. dabar96 says:

    Divine hospitality, at its deepest, offers hope to both the haughty and the hurting; and when this Hope shows up, she doesn’t always play by our rules. Instead, she invites us to play by hers.

  2. Barbara Messner says:

    dabar96, I like the notion that hope is offered to the haughty and the hurting: the trouble is the haughty don’t respond to the invitation to share the hospitality of hope, or play by those rules.
    Thanks Maren for the latest poem, so consonant with what I was trying to say about the disastrous and disgraceful Australian experience of white dealings with indigenous people, and the lack of respect for ancient cultures and wisdom. Regards from Barb Messner

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