“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.”
- Matthew 11:28-30
When I think of what I want (need?) church to be, what comes to mind is Rest. I want church to be a place of restful encounter with Jesus, who promises an easy yoke and a light burden.
Because the burdens I—and I suspect many others—carry in other dimensions of life are heavy indeed. These are the burdens of performance expectations, responsibilities, activities, and commitments. Most of the burdens aren’t bad in themselves; in fact they are the stuff of life in this world. Taking the kids to their activities, going to medical appointments, making appointments to socialize with spouse or friends, meeting work obligations, going on vacations—all these are good and life-giving things. Yet taken cumulatively, and without connection to a deeper purpose or opportunity to breathe, our activities can begin to feel like a treadmill: plodding steps that travel no distance and get nowhere. It’s a heavy burden to keep the treadmill going.
It is heavy going because so much of our activity is rooted in a message of scarcity that our culture gives us. This is the message that there is not enough time, money, or resources of energy to go around. Ultimately what we are in danger of believing is that we ourselves are “not enough.” (Good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, resourceful enough, mature enough, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum!)
In stark contrast, the voice of Jesus calls to us quietly, speaking a message of abundance: there is enough! … of God’s love, of resources in the world (shared generously and freely), of you! You are, in God’s sight, beautiful and precious – someone for whom the son was given.
My hope as a pastor is to create spaces and times where this voice of Jesus and this message of grace can be heard. In the coming months three places of rest, retreat, and renewal stand out on our church calendar. Pathways to Prayer, offered at Hope on Saturday mornings, February 2 and 9, is a time reflection on the Lord’s Prayer and how it leads us into intimacy with God. The Way of Christis a three-day retreat of renewal at Camp Kuriakos, April 25-28. And yet-to-be-finalized on our calendar will be a series of workshops on Scripture Storytelling: engaging God’s word in a new way by committing it to heart and telling the stories to each other. These can be spaces and times of rest, and taking on his light burden of grace.
For Christ’s name’s sake,