Répondez s’il vous plait. Simplified, we use “R.S.V.P.” instead of the French words meaning “Please reply.” The courtesy extended when one sends such a response can make an event go smoothly. The discourtesy extended when one fails to respond or disregards the invitation’s intention can cause chaos.
This past weekend Jeff, our oldest son, was married on a mountain top in Colorado. Because of Covid, only 30 people were permitted at the wedding site, but 120 were allowed at the reception. Part of the invitation included other activities that week such as an Olympic-style competition and a golf tournament. R.S.V.P.’s were critical for teams to be organized ahead of time. Colored headbands and wristbands had been ordered to indicate team membership for the eight Olympic events, and foursomes were designed around fair competition for golf. Most invitees took their responses seriously. Others, not so much. “Sorry, Bro, but I can’t make it today” (sent 30 minutes before the games began). “I’ll be an hour late. Hope that’s not a problem.” (Of course it was a problem.) “I’m bringing along a buddy. Please put him in my golf foursome.” “I know I said I couldn’t come, but things changed, so I’ll be there.” These were just a few of the replies that caused inconveniences. Some failed to respond but showed up, and others responded as coming but failed to show up. One team ended up with one person instead of the eight required to compete. Jeff’s brothers had to redesign teams because of last-minute cancellations, causing the entire Olympic events to start an hour later than scheduled. Sooooo unfair to the teammates who were there on time! If you’ve ever been in charge of organizing an activity that depended on people showing up, you know how frustrating it can be when they fail to take their R.S.V.P. seriously. You spend hours and hours getting everything ready. You work hard and are excited about what you’ve got planned. But then eight arrive instead of the 25 you counted on. Jesus had plenty to say about invited guests who fail to show up. In Mt. 22, he compared Heaven to a wedding banquet a king prepared for his son. Invitations had gone out ahead of time, but when the ceremony started, there were no-shows. Twice the king sent out his servants to find the guests, reminding them that the food was ready, but they had other plans. Some “seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.” The enraged king dispatched his army to destroy the murderers and burn their city. Fortunately, nothing so dramatic happened at Jeff’s weekend of activities, but Jesus took this snub very seriously. Let’s pick up in verse eight where his parable points to the Jews who, denying Jesus, were replaced with the Gentiles: Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. And everyone lived happily ever after. Ummm…maybe not. Next week we will look at one man who chose to come, but on his terms. It was an R.S.V.P. with eternal consequences.