Monday, July 7, 2008

Sermon - "Come to Me, Take My Yoke, Learn from Me"

I came into church with a message from a parishioner about how much he liked the sermon, so I thought I would post it................

Holiday weekend – celebrate the freedom that we enjoy as Americans
And while we may be politically free – but still in some ways bound
Ernest Benn said: “Liberty is being free from things we don’t like in order to be slaves of things we do like.”
How free are we? What is it that weighs us down – that burdens us

Question: What has you heavy laden?
Some suggestions of what can feel like burdens to us – financial – wondering how to make the paycheck stretch – as gas prices go up, food prices go up, health care goes up
Burdened by debt – or burdened by anxiety about debt

We may be burdened in relationships – areas of conflict and misunderstanding
Or maybe – like me – we are watching people we love in difficult situations and worrying for them and wondering what we can do
Burdened by it – because we love them
Concerns about our children and their development
Concerns about our parents and their deterioration

We may be burdened as we face the future for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren
Problems of globalization – war – poverty - – what is going to happen

We may be burdened by our own health problems – physical and mental. .
Biggest burden _ ourselves – "wherever I go there I am"– negativity, depression, perfectionism, guilt, compulsions

Invitation this morning for you – from our Lord:

28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Begin with the verbs – Come ,Take ,Learn
They are not a commandment – but they are an invitation – to all of us who know that we are burdened

1. come to me – come to a person – not to a church, not to a set of rule – but come to a person
2. take my yoke upon me –the word yoke symbolizes religion. The religion of the Pharisees was a thousand rules and regulations which essentially said, “No, no, no, no, no” to everything. Negative, negative, negative, negative, negative. religion. And this is directed to people whose religion has become a burden that does not give life – but wears them down with their inability to live by the rules. When Jesus is saying take MY yoke – he is saying - live in tandem with me totally connected – It is not a religion, but a relationship. do you realize the closeness that you need for that?
3. learn from me – not as a student – but as a disciple – as an apprentice. What does an apprentice do? An apprentice follows along after the person and learns by watching and doing what that person does. Learn from me. Learning means – of course – that you do not know everything. You are cultivating the beginner’s mind.
The Pharisees and the disciples would get into intellectual head games and Jesus would often put a child in front of them
Who gets into the kingdom of heaven – the one who is like a child.
Willing to learn – open to New ways to understand, to think and to do. Learn about yourself.
Try to say this – “I don’t know anything.” (I had the congregation say this aloud!)
Try to think of yourself as an erased blackboard ready to be written on.
Or say – Like the blind man – "I want to see."

Jesus says – learn from ME – learn about who you are in my life, learn about your place in the world through me
Learn that God has an important role for us.
This easy yoke is custom made for each of us – that is why it is easy – it is not one size fits all
It will not chafe and you will not feel burdened by it – it will be like no one else’s
We are part of his eternal design. We learn that – in being yoked to our Lord

That is the invitation for all of us – come, take, learn
And the promise is rest

To take Christ’s yoke means to submit to His person as the one who is gentle and humble in heart. And when you walk and work with this yoke mate, he gives you rest.
How? Because you learn to trust HIM. As you watch Him live a life of trusting God.
One of the best stories of Jesus is when he and the disciples were in a storm on the lake of Galilee and do you remember what Jesus did? He slept.
He slept because he trusted in God’s care for him.
And we can rest for the same reason – we grow to learn that being yoked to Jesus means that we can conquer anything that life hands us.
Jesus said – everything is possible for those who believe
Paul said – We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him
And we find rest in HIM – who loves us

Story about a woman who was running for the bus with two large suitcases
Gets there just in time – gets on the bus and stands there – in the middle of the aisle stiffly holding up her suitcases
Until finally a gentle older woman touches her shoulder and says
“It’s okay honey, you can put them down now – the bus will carry them”

That is the rest that we get – our Lord can carry the burdens – we can let go. Rest for our souls – we can trust the Lord

Understanding the Yoke:
1. Choice – choose to be yoked to Christ. And I have to say that we are all yoked to something.
And it is an image of working with God for God.
We are all yoked to something – whether it is career, financial independence, our family, and often ourselves. Our EGO
That may be the most prevalent and almost subconscious – the idea that it is all up to them.
We can be people who are weary with the burdens of our marriages, or our finances, or our personal issues.
And with our ego – try to take care of it all ourselves.
Richard Rohr writes
“I hope we can say ego is not bad. It is necessary. The only problem is that our culture teaches that ego is the only game in town…..the nature of the ego is that it tries to fix, name, control and insure everything for itself…..the religious version of the ego is that we want to be right and want to be in control.”
We wear ourselves down and out.
Wear the title Christian – but it is a “just in case” faith – call you if I need you – not a yoking

The yoke that Christ has for us is a choice – to choose to be harnessed with HIM and live by his values and live with his people.
And the choice of the yoke is to be willing to be led and to be living at times in waiting for the leading.

2. Authority – Spirituality is very popular these days – but without authority. Deepok Chopra write – “I satisfy a spiritual yearning without making people think they have to worry about God or punishment.” Well, this is about living under the authority of God. Which means being willing to be a servant –
· To love the people God loves
· To go the places God goes
· To be silent when you would rather speak
· To speak when you would rather be silent.
When you are yoked with Christ you give him free reign of your life.

3. Daily – I could preach this sermon every day to myself because it is so easy to fall away from the yoke.
When it is an invitation and not a command, my experience is that we may not notice that we have fallen away for a while at first.
It is when that feeling of being burdened comes upon us that we know that somehow we have slipped out of the yoke.
For me, it is a tightening in the shoulders, maybe a tension in the head and I realize I have gone off on my own again – as if there was no God

Or it may be finding myself starting to judge and criticize others for the way they have not lived up to my expectations – as I allow my ego to take the place where Jesus needs to be.

It is daily – to come again to the Lord, to enter into a life of contemplation and action listening for his voice, looking for his signs and following His way.

Being Yoked to Jesus means that you are back in that place of rest and peace and trust.

End with a story about Randy Reed – a 34 year old steel worker.
He was welding near the top of an almost completed water tower in south Chucago.
He needed some supplies but could not reach them from where he stood, so he unhooked his safety belt and leaned from his scaffolding to grab a few items.
The shift in his weight caused the platform on which he was standing to tolt.
He tried to catch himself but fell 110 feet and landed on a pile of dirt near one of the steel tower legs.

Someone called 911 as construction workers rushed to his sde.
Paramedics arrived quickly, finding him still alive.
They strapped him to a back board and rushed him toward an ambulance.

Randy, opened his eyes, looked at his stretcher carriers and said
Please don’t drop me.”

Now that is pretty funny – he had just survived a fall of 110 feet, but was concerned about being dropped a couple of feet by paramedics.
Later doctors found that he had only suffered a few bruised ribs.

We resemble that construction worker
We trust God with our eternity
But when it comes to the “small” matters of life we find ourselves worrying that God may drop us.

Life is difficult for all of us and there are times in which we feel particularly weary because of the burdens that we are carrying

May we remember the words of our Lord to all of us
Come to me
Take my yoke and learn from me
For my yoke is easy and my burden light

1 comment:

Elyssa said...

Great sermon! Although it is from a Christian perspective, I also see elements of Buddhism and Eckhart Tolle in it. Thanks for sharing. I also appreciate your work towards social justice as outlined in your previous posts.