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HYMN FOR PENTECOST 20 Come, Sinners to the Gospel Feast

Text: Charles Wesley (1707-1788) Tune: Hursley, Duke Street, etc.

The King's Banquet. Joakim Skovgaard Viborg Cathedral Denmark

1 Come sinners, to the gospel-feast, Let every soul be Jesu's guest; Ye need not one be left behind; For God hath bidden all mankind. 2 Sent by my Lord, on you I call; The invitation is to all: Come all the world, come, sinner, thou! All things in Christ are ready now. 3 Come all ye souls by sin opprest, Ye restless wand'rers after rest: Ye poor, and maim'd, and halt and blind, In Christ a hearty welcome find. 4 My message as from God receive: Ye all may come to Christ, and live; O let his love your hearts constrain, Nor suffer him to die in vain! 5 His love is mighty to compel: His conqu'ring love consent to feel; Yield to his love's resistless power, And fight against your God no more. 6 See him set forth before your eyes, That precious, bleeding sacrifice! His offer'd benefits embrace, And freely now be sav'd by grace! 7 This is the time; no more delay! This is the acceptable day; Come in, this moment, at his call, And live to him who dy'd for all!

REFLECTION

The banquet invitation that is spurned by the original invitees has a fun Sunday School ditty. I cannot come to the banquet, don’t bother me now, I must marry a wife, I must buy me a cow. It is wonderful to see kids singing it with their enthusiasm.


This parable is portrayed in one of the largest frescoes in the Viborg Cathedral in Denmark which is covered with scenes from the Bible. The artist, Joakim Skovgaard, thought it was the essence of the Gospel. The invitation to the banquet is to everyone without exception. This hymn by Wesley treats the parable fully, especially the eternal significance of the invitation and the feast in heaven.


There is wisdom in the ditty—how easy it is to put daily chores ahead of the more important thing. While there is nothing wrong with any of those tasks, and Jesus knows that, the problem is that putting that routine over ultimate things misses the point.


Augustine talks about ends and means. God has given us many things which are the means to the good life. What the people who refused the invitation are doing is good, but not the end of life. They are a means to a good life. When they become ends, they become idols and bring only death. Our end must be in Christ, then everything falls into place. Or, another way he puts it, “I was restless until I found my rest in thee.”


One cannot sing the hymn without naming who is really invited to the feast: sinners. That is the scandal of the story. One sees it in the painting. The servants are picking up all kinds of people, not the sturdy burghers who had been invited. It is also a bit of a scandal to all of us that Jesus came to sinners. For a moment we forget we are exactly that. How wonderful he invites sinners. That means everybody. Every once in a while when people are talking about someone who has sinned terribly—and there are terrible sins that break every bond of trust with us—it is salutary to remember that all God has is sinners. They are the ones who will preach, who will help the indigent and poor, who will raise their kids as best they can, serve him in the church and civic life. All sinners. Saved by grace.

Charles Wesley Preaching

HYMN INFO

Originally named “The Great Supper,” the hymn appeared first in Wesley’s collection Hymns for those who seek and those who have Redemption 1747. Wesley wrote thousands of hymns. This one is among his more popular and is frequently sung at communion, the Gospel feast. It brings in the eschatological theme to that celebration. The tune varies.


LINKS

Summit Church


Baguio Episcopal Church






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