Rest for the Weary: A sermon

We keep hearing that we are in unprecedented times.  Our lives have totally changed in the last few months. We have watched horrific murders and arson, and we have also seen our communities join together in love and care.  We have seen people who refuse to wear masks, and also the way so many of you have made masks for each other and sent masks to the Navajo nation.  I have seen information shared on social media to help us learn more about racism and how to be an ally, and I have been disappointed in friends and family members who do not want to understand.  Instead of gathering, we have online worship.  Instead of small groups, we have zoom meetings.  Zoom exhaustion is a real thing, and I have it.  It is wonderful to see people’s faces, and yet, I always leave the meetings tired. 

I am weary.  Are you?

I feel like our current world is much like Matthew 11: 16-19. We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’”(11:17)    There is so much sadness, and judgment.  Matthew reminds us that John the Baptist and Jesus were both rejected and ridiculed. Groupthink and culture wars happened in the ancient world, and they are happening right now. 

I am weary. Are you?

Jesus calls all of us who are weary.  Jesus promises us rest.  Jesus provides us a safe place where we can share all of the burdens that are on our hearts.  Jesus invites us to take a break and renew our strength and our spirits so that we can get back to work. 

The 4th of July is always a fun holiday, though this year it will be different.  You may have extra day off, of vacation, or maybe this year it just feels like every other weekend.  We can use this holiday to reflect on how our country began.  It was not an easy process.  The Revolutionary war lasted 7 years, but there had been years of unrest prior to the war.  The Declaration of Independence, that we celebrate this weekend, was the beginning of the war.  Sometimes things have to change.  But the change process is not always comfortable, easy, or even safe.

I can’t help but wonder if God is using this time of pandemic to help us change.  We have opportunity to look at the way things were pre-pandemic, and decide what we miss and what we don’t miss.  WE have the opportunity to change.  21 days makes a habit, and we have had a much longer time.  What do you want to leave behind from the pre-pandemic world?  What have you learned these last few months that you want to keep doing or carry forward?   Then looking bigger than ourselves, what do we want for our community?  What work do we need to do so that our community is a safe place for everyone?  What justice work do we need to do on behalf of our brothers and sisters of color? On behalf of our LGBTQ+ friends and family?  What work do we need to do to make God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven? 

As we reflect, we need to also prepare for action.  We need to strengthen our bodies, minds, and spirits.  We need to rest in Christ.  We need to turn all of our fears, any feelings of resistance to change, any traces of hate or judgment that lie in our hearts for any side, we need to give all of that over to Christ.  We need to release our burdens.  We are not in this unprecedented time alone.  We do not have to do the work that lies ahead alone. 

Jesus says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (11:28-29)

If you are like me and feeling weary from living in quarantine, Jesus says come to me. If you are weary from what you see on the news, Jesus says come to me.  If you are weary from physical, emotional, or mental health issues, Jesus says come to me.  Jesus invites us to rest.  To take a deep breath and recollect ourselves.  Our souls need rest, and Jesus offers us that rest.  We just have to allow ourselves time with him.  Maybe you spend time with God in prayer.  Maybe it is reading Scripture.  Maybe it is journaling.  Maybe it is going for a walk.  Maybe it is signing up to come walk the labyrinth here at church.  Maybe it is a nap.  Give yourself permission to let your soul rest. 

I want to share with you a prayer from the late Australian pastor, Bruce D. Prewer. (http://www.bruceprewer.com/)

Jesus says: “Come to me, all who are battling on under heavy load,

and I will give you rest.”

Let any who are feeling at odds with life, come, and find reconciliation.

Let any who are sad, come, and find comfort for your aching hearts.

Let any who feel worn and weary, come, and find rest for your souls.

Let any who are afraid, come, and find faith and renewed courage.

Let any who feel ashamed, come, and find unadulterated forgiveness.

Let any who are feel unwanted, come, and find hospitality that is divine.

Let all who are feeling happy, come and have your happiness blessed.

Let all who wish to renew their vows, come and trust the Spirit of truth and joy.

Let all who love the Lord come, and let and let your love overflow in praise.

Amen.

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