Summary: A sermon for Reformation Sunday
"Rags to Riches
““Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”” Jeremiah 31:31-34, RSV.
Grace and Peace to you fro our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
A beggar lived near the king’s palace. One day he saw a proclamation posted outside the palace gate. The king was giving a great dinner. Anyone dressed in royal garments was invited to the party. The beggar was on his way. He looked at the rags he was wearing and sighed. Surely only kings and their families wore royal robes, he thought. Slowly an idea crept into his mind. The audacity of it made him tremble. Would he dare?
He made his way back to the palace. He approached the guard at the gate. "Please, sire, I would like to speak with the king."
"Wait here," the guard replied. In a few minutes, he was back. "His majesty will see you," he said, and led the beggar in.
"You wish to see me?" asked the king.
"Yes, your majesty. I want so much to attend the banquet, but I have no royal robes to wear. Please, sir, if I may be so bold, may I have one of your old garments so that I, too, may come to the banquet?"
The beggar shook so hard that he could not see the faint smile that was on the king’s face. "You have been wise in coming to me," the king said. He called to his son, the young prince. "Take this man to your room and array him in some of your clothes."
The prince did as he was told and soon the beggar was standing before a mirror, clothed in garments that he had never dared hoped for. "You are now eligible to attend the king’s banquet tomorrow night," said the prince. "But even more important, you will never need any other clothes. These garments will last forever.
"Oh, thank you," he cried.
But as he started to leave, he looked back at his pile of dirty rags on the floor. He hesitated. What if the prince was wrong? What if he would need his old clothes again... Quickly he gathered them up. The banquet was far greater than he had ever imagined, but he could not enjoy himself as he should. He had made a small bundle of his old rags and it kept falling off his lap. The food was passed quickly and the beggar missed some of the greatest delicacies.
Time proved that the prince was right. The clothes lasted forever. Still the poor beggar grew fonder and fonder of his old rags. As time passed people seemed to forget the royal robes he was wearing. They only saw the little bundle of filthy rags he clung to wherever he went. They even spoke of him as the old man with the rags.
One day as he lay dying, the king visited him. The beggar saw the sad look on the king’s face when he looked at the small bundle of rags by the bed. Suddenly the beggar remembered the prince’s words and he realized that his bundle of rags had cost him a lifetime of true royalty.
He wept bitterly at his folly. And the king wept with him.
The beggar kept hold of his dirty rags and would not fully embrace the righteous clothes that the king gave him.
He was given the gift of royalty but would not fully accept it.
On the Reformation Sunday, we are reminded of the grace that God through Christ has fully given us.
And like that beggar, we don’t fully accept it. We want to hang on to our old ways of earning heaven for ourselves. We cannot give up our rags to fully embrace the riches that God through Christ has given us.
The beggar was given the new clothes as a gift and we are given salvation as a gift.