A couple of weeks ago our parish of St. Paul's Selma hosted our 9th Annual Lobster Fest - quite an affair!! To enter into the spirit of the occasion, David and I "dressed up" - tux for him, black dress and pearls for me! Such fun. There was no "dress code" - (of course) - but we did want to "dress up" and honor the occasion of St. Paul's welcoming the larger community of Selma into our parish hall for a "banquet"! That evening several hundred people visited St. Paul's - warmly welcomed by so many of our parishioners donning so many "hats" - hosts, hostesses, refreshment "hosts," decor crew, kitchen crew, clean-up crew, photographers, musicians, the list goes on and on.... Our dinner was served in the parish Parker Hall with the stunning Clara Weaver Parrish stained glass window of the Wedding at Cana "presiding over" the events of the evening. Perfect "window dressing"!!
As exciting as it was to "dress up," I am so thankful that our Lord doesn't have a "dress code" for attendance at the Heavenly Banquet! All are welcome...all are included...no matter what our exterior attire. But, come to think of it, there actually IS a "dress code" for entry into the feast that God offers to us every time we gather for the Holy Eucharist. That attire costs nothing...but costs everything. It is best expressed in the Collect for Purity that most Episcopal parishes pray at the beginning of the Holy Eucharist:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP p. 355
Thanks be to God that we are all invited to the Feast....may we also be willing to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and so be transformed that we can not only enjoy the feast ourselves, but also seek out those who are hungering for the holy food and be gracious hosts as well.....