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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, July 10, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 11:16–19, 25–30       

“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (NRSV)

“Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” This verse is one of my favorites. So many of us carry a myriad of daily burdens. Sometimes those burdens are almost too heavy to bear.

The rest promised for those who come to Jesus and desire to live in God’s presence and walk in God’s ways requires us to take on a yoke. A yoke symbolizes work. My image is that of a yoke on the necks of two oxen, pulling the plow, together plowing the field. As human beings, we have a choice. Will we take on the yoke of Jesus and recognize that he’s on the other side of that yoke with us, so that we’re not pulling the load alone? Or will we take on the yoke of something else—isolation, thinking everything is up to us, embarrassment because of our problems, shame?

The people who share their burdens with me or one of our other pastors or with a Stephen Minister tend to forget about the yoke. Our first impulse is to slog through our problems alone, as though no one is on the other side of that yoke. When life’s problems become heavier than we can bear, we retreat, embarrassed that our lives have fallen apart, worried that we won’t be able to bear the load.

Taking on the yoke of Jesus brings rest because we have a partner in the work of life. Taking on the yoke of Jesus also brings responsibility—to remember we are not alone in our burdens; to keep taking our concerns to God; to keep trying, though we often fail, to live in God’s presence; and to walk, accompanied by Jesus and others, in God’s ways of love and forgiveness and blessing.

Dear Jesus, help me keep sharing in the work of loving and healing and forgiving with you, and thank you for sharing in the burdens of life with me. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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