This is one that Jesus originally told and Phil Yancey writes about it in his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace? It’s a picture of what our church is, can be, will be, should be.
One of the pictures Jesus often uses of grace is of a wedding banquet. So this is what Yancey writes:
Accompanied by her fiance, a woman went to the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Boston to order what was supposed to be their wedding banquet. They poured over the menu, made selections of china and silver, pointed to the pictures of flower arrangements they liked. They both had expensive tastes and the bill came to $13,000. After leaving a check for half that amount as a down payment, the couple went home to flip through books of wedding announcements.
The day the announcements were supposed to hit the mailbox, the potential groom got cold feet. “I’m just not sure,” he said, “it’s a big commitment. Let’s think about this a little bit longer.” And he dumped his fiancee. When his angry fiancee returned to the Hyatt to cancel the banquet, the Events Manager could not have been more understanding. “The same thing happened to me, honey,” she said and told the story of her own broken engagement. But about the refund, she had bad news. “The contract is binding. You’re only entitled to $1300 back. You have two options, forfeit the rest of the down payment (thousands of dollars) or go ahead with the banquet. I’m sorry, really I am.” It seemed crazy, but the more the jilted bride thought about it, the more she liked the idea of going ahead with the party. Not a wedding banquet, mind you, but a big blow-out. Tens years before, the same woman had been living in a homeless shelter. She’d gotten back on her feet, found a good job, set aside a sizable nest egg. Now she had this wild notion of using her savings to treat the down and outs of Boston to a night on the town. And so it was in June of 1990 the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Boston hosted at party such as it had never seen before. The hostess changed the menu to boneless chicken in honor of the groom, she said. She sent invitations to rescue missions and homeless shelters. That warm summer night people who were used to peeling half-mud pizza off the cardboard, dined instead on chicken cordon bleu. Hyatt waiters in tuxedos served hors d’oeuvres to senior citizens propped up by crutches and aluminum walkers. Bag ladies, vagrants and addicts took one night off from the hard life on the sidewalks outside and instead ate chocolate wedding cake and danced to Big Band melodies late into the night.
From Art Good’s Sermon: What Does Jesus Look Like?