Living in the unforced rhythms of Grace
Matthew 11: 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 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.”
John van de Laar, in his Sacredise resources for this week (http://sacredise.com/lectionary-resources/proper-9a/ ), writes powerfully on this text (my emphasis):
“The broken and weary ones of the world are with us in every family, every community and every neighbourhood. The broken and weary ones are us, and those we live with. This is why Christ’s invitation is such a wonderful, life-giving promise. We need only believe that rest can truly be found in a Christ-following life. We need only be committed enough to Christ’s invitation that we will not keep it to ourselves, but seek to share it with those around us. It is when we open our arms and the doors of our churches to all – whoever they may be or however we may disagree with them – that we offer rest, instead of the burden of judgement and guilt. It is when we live simply and generously, resisting the temptation to hoard, accumulate and consume more than we need that we bring rest to those who struggle to survive each day. It is when we work within our community to bring change to unjust laws, to take notice of the hurting and vulnerable ones, and to welcome those with whom we would normally not associate that we bring rest to others. These actions make no sense to those who benefit from and buy into the world’s systems, but they are the only ones that bring life and grace and liberation to all – both those who do them and those who benefit from them. Perhaps it’s time that the Church stopped trying to be wise in the world’s eyes (or even wiser than the world but on the world’s terms), and embraced a childlike naivety and a gracious, inclusive openness that can offer an alternative way of being in this often burdensome world.”
Last week I attended a workshop on gender and gender-based violence with faith leaders and people of faith. I also read a survey completed by people of faith on the responses in their faith community to people with HIV. In both of these I heard the same message over and over: I heard of people in pain, coming to the church with their burdens, and being silenced or rejected.
I'm sure each of these rejected people can resonate with our text, especially with the translation in "The Message" which brings it even closer to home:
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.”
I can understand that they feel “burned out on religion”
To think about: In the next week, what will your response be to people in need? Will you burden them with judgement and guilt, or will you offer rest and help them move into the “unforced rhythms of grace”?