+ FIFTH SUNDAY after PENTECOST +
Come unto Me Sunday
5 July 2020
THEME of THE DAY Rest for The Weary
Jesus chose to be with people who believed that they were excluded from God’s mercy and love: those who were poor, sick, dying, in emotional and mental distress. Where many religious people of the day saw only the sinful shadows of these people, Jesus recognized their need for the transforming power of mercy, forgiveness, and healing.
To them he said: “Come to me and find rest.”
Today he graciously comes to us with words of mercy and grace. And he asks us to bring these good gifts—signs of the Spirit’s presence—into our daily lives and the lives of others.
May God bless your worship this morning.
AN ACT of ADORATION
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us adore our heavenly Father, who created us, who sustains us, who loves us
with an everlasting love, and gives us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the
face of Jesus Christ.
We praise you, O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord.
Let us glory in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for
our sakes became poor; who became obedient unto death, even death on a cross;
who died and is alive forevermore; who opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers who is seated at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father; who will come again,
as Judge and King.
You are the King of glory, O Christ.
Let us rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, by whom
we are born into the family of God, and made members of the body of Christ, whose witness confirms us, whose wisdom teaches us, whose power enables us to do far
more abundantly than all we ask or think.
All praise to you, O Holy Spirit.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
You are great, O God, and greatly to be praised. You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you. Grant that we may believe in you, call upon you, know you, serve you, and find rest in you; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Zechariah 9:9-12
[The period after the Jews had returned from Babylonian exile was a time of extreme crisis. The return was not the glorious event announced by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40-55). Serious social, economic, political, and religious problems confronted the people. Because of God’s covenant with Israel, they then looked forward to the future when God intervene on their behalf.]
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war-horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations, his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to
your stronghold, O prisoners of hope, today I declare that I will restore to you double.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON Romans 7:14-25
[Life captive to sin is a catch-22 existence in which we know good but do not do it and do things we know to be wrong. Through Jesus Christ, God has set us free from such a futile existence.]
We know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do now want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells within my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
[In Matthew’s gospel, John the Baptist and Jesus are described as having very different approaches to ministry, though they both proclaim the same message of God’s kingdom. Here, Jesus chides people who seem to find fault with all preachers as an excuse for ignoring the word of God, and thanks God that wisdom and intelligence are not needed to receive what God has to offer.]
Jesus spoke to the crowd saying: “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 or 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 know the Son except the Father, and no one know 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.
The Gospel of our Lord. Praise to You, O Christ.
HOMILY Rest for the Weary Pr. Jim Text: The Gospel Lesson for Pentecost 5
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
Which would you prefer – to carry a sack of potatoes in a shoulder bag for a mile, or those potatoes in a backpack for five miles?
Now, which would you prefer – to carry two sacks of potatoes in a backpack for five miles, or to pull two sacks of potatoes in a cart while yoked to another person for five miles?
Most of us would probably agree that the second option in each case is the easier.
A backpack distributes the load like a single yoke and being yoked to another person also distributes the load. It is easier to bear a load that is distributed.
Now, here’s one more choice – which would you prefer – to carry those potatoes in the backpack with someone pressing down on the pack, or to carry them without the added pressure?
This is the choice Jesus offers. We still carry the potatoes – but we don’t have to do it alone or with added pressure when we are yoked to Jesus.
For Jesus’ followers, the potatoes were the religion of the day that had become oppressive with rules and regulations that made it difficult to be considered faithful. The Pharisees had added over 600 rules about how to keep the Sabbath! It was a heavy burden that Jesus’ hearers were yoked to carry,
Other burdens were the constant stress of being subjected to Roman rule, with its own set of laws and customs that made being faithful to God’s Word difficult. For some, the burdens were illnesses like leprosy, palsy, blindness, and mental instability. For others, the stresses of economics and family life.
So. what are the potatoes in our lives? What are the burdens we carry? Most of us right now are carrying a burden of stress related to COVID-19 –
- be it fear of exposure,
- uncertainty about the future,
- concerns for children or parents,
- and weariness of the measures needed to keep ourselves and others safe.
Some of us carry burdens of loneliness and isolation; others of us are Zoom-weary. All of us are grieving something –or someone –
- a favorite shop that has gone out of business;
- community fireworks displays that didn’t take place this year,
- a loved one or friends we can’t visit with face-to-face;
- and the loss of ways of life such as Sunday worship and going to school that simply cannot return to the way things used to be.
Into our lives, on this 5th Sunday after Pentecost, comes Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
Jesus invites us to lay down our burdens at his feet. To take off the loaded backpacks, and to set aside the heavy wooden yoke that chafes our shoulders. He invites us to be unyoked from the burdens that are directed by worry … fear … or the world that seeks only its own profit and be yoked instead to him. He invites us to ignore the world and public opinion that gets us riled up and to turn off the burdensome media stream that fills our ears and minds with way too much information that may or may not be true.
- Come to me, he invites. Come where I can speak into your heart and mind and soul.
- Come and be yoked to my team and learn to go where I guide you.
- Come and learn from me how to trust in your heavenly Father.
- Come and learn how to live as I do.
- Come and put my yoke on your shoulders – it’s way lighter than the one you carry now.
- Yoked together as my people, pull the plow of the kingdom of God that I direct.
- My yoke will not make you tired – it will energize you … for I am a merciful drover and will not work you to the bone.
- The labor you give under my yoke is not unto death, but life … life in abundance and forever.
In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a Lutheran pastor who was imprisoned during WWII and executed by direct order of Heinrich Himmler shortly before the liberation of Flossenburg Prison Camp in 1945) wrote:
Only the person who follows the command of Jesus without reserve and
submits to his yoke, finds his burden easy.
Being yoked with Christ means submission – obedience … and work. And before you get upset by that, let me remind you that we all live in submission to something or someone. We are all yoked to someone or something. The question is: Is Jesus holding the reins or someone else? Is it the mission of God that we labor for, or our own earthly desires? Jesus invites us to consider the heaviness of being yoked to the world … the wearisome burden of seeking the approval of others … the fruitless burden of self-indulgence.
Jesus especially invites us to lay aside the burden of proving our worthiness to receive the mercy of God. “Take my yoke upon you,” he invites, “and learn from me.” In other words – “Take my direction. For I am gentle and humble-hearted, and you will find rest.”
What does Jesus mean? How can we be yoked for labor and still find rest? First of all, Jesus is a gracious and merciful master – he uses no whip to make us work harder, he does not make our inbox unmanageable (we do that to ourselves), and he forgives mistakes. There is rest in knowing that our mistakes are not disastrous. Second, the labor is that of the new creation. It is life-giving and life-affirming. It is not a rat race or drudgery. There is rest in knowing our lives have purpose and meaning beyond our own survival. And finally, we labor together with others and with the Holy Spirit in us. Jesus bears the burden of sin on the cross and we get to labor as though the yoke has little or no weight at all. There is rest in knowing that success is entirely Jesus’ responsibility, not ours, though we receive the eternal reward for his labor.
Our Lord has already won the victory by his resurrection from the dead. He is the one who knows the burdens we carry and in tender mercy and love, bids us “Come to me.”
+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
PRAYERS of THE CHURCH
Called into unity with one another, let us pray for The Church, the world, and all of God’s creation.
Lord of The Church, sustain us as we share your Word. Embrace us as we struggle to find our common ground. Lift up bishops, pastors, teachers, and parish leaders, filling their hearts and ours with compassion as we share your love and spread the gospel. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of abundance, we pray for the well-being of creation. Protect the air, water, and land from abuse and pollution. Free us from apathy in our care of creation and inspire us to toward sustainable living so that future generations may enjoy the goodness and blessings of your creation. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of counsel and peace, we pray for the nations (especially the United States and our neighbor Canada as we celebrate our respective nationhood). Guide our federal, state, and local leaders in developing just policies and guide difficult conversations. Encourage them to seek peace, equality, and unity across our land so that which divides us may be healed with genuine love for our brothers and sisters of all races and color. Bless us with the necessary healing and change that only you can give. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of care, open our eyes to see and attend all who are under doctor’s care especially John, Sarah, and Shari. Bring your healing and strength to them as we lift them up in prayer before you. With your love, surround those who are homebound especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Rusty, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of community, we pray for our congregation and its ministries. Give us passion to embrace your mission and the vision to recognize where you are leading us. Teach us how to live more faithfully with each other. And, as we prayerfully consider calling Patrick Moore as vicar to join us in the mission and ministry of our parish, help us discern your will for him and for us so that in all things your good and gracious will may be done. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of life, we give thanks for those who have gone before us with the sign of faith. Stir in us the desire to follow their faithful examples and sustain us as we serve you until the day you bear us up to join the saints in light. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Receive our prayers, merciful God, and dwell in us richly, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray …
Our Father who art in heaven;
hallowed be Thy Name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those
who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you + peace. Amen.