June 28, 2020

Video:“God Is Here”

Welcome & Greeting:

Hymn:“Light of the World”

Call To Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 New Living Translation

16 “To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,

17 ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’

18 For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’

19 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”

25 At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike.

26 Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!

27 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Hear what the Spirit is saying. Thanks be to God.

Video:“Grace Like Rain”

Message: Come To Me

Then Jesus said - “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

I’ve heard a story about a woman who was nervous about attending her first meeting as a member of the council for her church. It didn’t help that she was already late for her first meeting. She went rushing past the custodian – who was putting the recycling out – and she had her own arms full as she tried to get the back door of the church open.

Juggling her take out dinner – her laptop bag – and her purse – she tried to pull the door open. She knew that in the humidity the door would often stick – and this time – it was being extremely stubborn and just wouldn’t budge at all.

Not wanting to put any of her stuff down – she just pulled as hard as she could with her free hand – at least as hard as she could without upsetting her load – but it still wouldn’t move.

Just as she was giving up – she noticed the custodian was standing there watching.

Did you pull as hard as you could? – he asked.

Yes – she sighed – I gave it everything I’ve got.

The custodian smiled and said – No – you didn’t – you didn’t ask me to help you. He walked over – took her bags off her shoulder and said – Now try it. with both hands free – and no fear of loosing her balance – the door came open on the first try.

In today’s gospel lesson – Jesus promises us rest for our souls by coming to him. He promises us that we can set down our burden – and yokes – and take up his easy and light ones instead.

By talking about yokes – Jesus is using an illustration common in his time – but not so common in ours – at least in our part of the world. A yoke is usually made out of wood – it fits across the shoulders of the animal – or the person – that is using it – and it helps spread the load.

With oxen – a yoke connects animals to each other and to a plow or – something else – the animal is pulling. The purpose of the yoke is to harness the power of the animal to do the work required of it. Yokes are also used by people to carry water or other things. If you’ve been observant – you may have noticed a canoe paddle – and a carved cherry canoe yoke – in one of the niches behind Mardi if she is praying on the couch.

Justin Martyr – one of the early church fathers – writing in the second century – said that when Jesus was working as a carpenter – yokes would have been one of the things he made.

Maybe you can imagine Jesus making these wooden yokes – meant to join pairs of animals together – or to make carrying something easier for someone.

Of course – Jesus – the carpenter – would want to make the yoke so that it would fit just right – not rub or be rough on the animals – but it would be something that would truly help the animals bear their burdens – pull together – be more efficient as a team than either would be alone.

As someone who has used a yoke to carry a lot of heavy canoes – as well as someone who is also a bit of a carpenter – I can imagine Jesus – as the most compassionate carpenter – carving – and sanding – getting rid of any rough spots – fitting the yoke – checking it – adjusting it just a bit more – making it just right for the job – a perfect fit.

Jesus invites us to take a yoke – made just like that – made exactly for us – by someone who understands what it means to bear burdens – someone who knows us each by name – knows our gifts and our needs – who does not want us to be wearied or weighed down.

Jesus offers us a yoke – made by his own labor and love – made perfectly for us. And that’s not all – he offers himself as our partner in the yoke – the one who will help us bear – pull – carry – whatever we are called to do.

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you – For my yoke is easy – and my burden is light.

What a beautiful invitation. Jesus longs to give us rest from all the troubles – and hardships –we carry. All we need to do is give up our burdens – turn everything we carry over to Christ – and he will help us – a beautiful – utterly simple invitation.

So why is it so hard to do?

Maybe you’re able to turn things over to God pretty easily. Maybe – you’re good at remembering that you are not alone – and that Jesus is standing beside you saying, - Come to me – and you go to him.

Maybe you’ve learned that you are strongest when you ask for God’s help. Maybe your first impulse when struggling with a tough problem – or heavy burden – is – to let go and let God. If that describes you – well done.

If you’re like many people – however – it’s really hard actually to turn things over – even if we know in our heads that we’re turning them over to Jesus – who stretched out his arms upon the cross – so that he could embrace the whole world – and take all of our burdens on himself. It’s hard to go to Jesus – and give up our burdens to him.

Sometimes we forget he is there for us – or we trust he is there – but we don’t really think he’s talking to us. Oh – our problems are so small compared to other people’s problems – I really shouldn’t bother God with this – as if God can’t handle our burdens – or is too busy dealing with others to notice us.

No – Jesus was speaking in the plural when he gave his invitation – and he was speaking to everyone – everywhere – for all time and forever. You come to me – You take my easy yoke – are you weary? Do you have burdens – big or small? Then you qualify – then this includes you.

But – there’s maybe another thing that keeps us from taking Jesus up on his invitation – and that’s that we don’t want to need help. We want to be strong and capable – and we think keeping our problems to ourselves – trying to do things alone – trying to muscle our way through anxiety by ourselves – is proof of our strength and ability.

We’ve just celebrated Canada Day – it’s sort of our Canadian independence day – we celebrate Canada becoming a country all it’s own – we celebrate being independent.

Independence is always celebrated – it’s something we tend to want – to strive for – no one ever celebrates being dependant.

But as Christians – we make a startling claim that we are always dependent – and that’s a good thing. Our gospel reading today – began with Jesus giving thanks that those who get his message – those who really understand it – are like children – and children are dependant and open.

Too often – we want to handle things ourselves – rather than use our real strength – which comes from handing our burdens over to Christ.

Too often – we are like the solo mountain climber in the old joke who slipped and fell on a difficult cliff. He was just barely able to grab hold of a fragile branch and hang on for all he was worth.

He shouted out – Is there anyone up there – Help me! A voice came from the skies and said – I am all good – powerful – and wise – the God who loves you for who you are. I will save you if you let go.

The climber thought about that for a few minutes – and then finally he called back up –

Is there anyone else up there?

Too often – we are way too reluctant to let go. But Jesus has promised – we can.

If we are able to give things up to God – to take on Jesus’ easy yoke and light burden – we need to be open to the ways the relief will come. If you need healing from some despair – if you need help with some struggle – turn it over to God – and then be open to the ways that burden will be lifted.

Say yes to the help that comes your way. God will help – but very often that help will come through people who will offer you comfort or direction. That help may come in little pieces that fit together into a whole – a life-giving – burden-lifting whole – but you need to say yes to the pieces.

And sometimes we don’t ask for God’s help – because we don’t think we’re actually deserving of it. Our need for help somehow tells us – not that we’re human – like everyone else – but that somehow – we are fatally flawed – and undeserving – not worthy of help. We see ourselves as too broken to be of any use or value.

God never ever sees us this way. God knows where we are broken. God knows where we are hurting and aching – and chafing under our burden – and wants only to take that burden from us. God loves us and can use us – as weary and broken as we may be.

The original author of this story is unknown – it has shown up in many places on the Internet – in several versions – set in various countries or times – but the point of the story is the same in each case.

A water bearer had two large pots – each hung on each end of a yoke he carried across his shoulders. One of the pots had a crack in it – and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house – the cracked pot always arrived only half full.

For a long time – this went on daily – with the water bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his master’s house per trip.

The cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection – and miserable that it was able to deliver only half a load of water. One day it spoke to the water bearer by the stream. “I am ashamed – and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the water bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house.”

The water bearer replied, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” And as they went up the hill, the cracked pot noticed the sun warming the beautiful flowers on the side of the path. This cheered the pot some, but he still felt bad about being broken.

The water bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?

That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I used it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For years now I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

We are all broken – all flawed – and all perfectly worthy – because of Jesus Christ – to receive God’s love and care. One of the burdens we can give up is the burden of thinking we need to do things on our own – or that we need to match some picture of perfection – in order for Jesus to want to be yoked to us.

No – weariness – is the only requirement to receive Christ’s rest. Having a burden we want to set down is the only requirement for picking up Christ’s light burden. Being yoked to something we need to let go of is the only requirement for allowing Christ to give us a new yoke – tailor-made for us.

Come to me all you that are weary and are heavy-laden – and I will give you rest.

Amen.

Hymn:“I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”

Pastoral Prayer:

Benediction and Commissioning

Hymn:“Will You Come and Follow Me”

Postlude

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