Sunday after Pentecost
to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy
burdens, and I will give you rest."
Prayer for self-control:
O Lord our God, teach us temperance and self-control, that we may live in
the Spirit and be mindful of all that Jesus endured and sacrificed for our sakes, and how
he was made perfect through sufferings.
Help us so to follow your guiding hand, that we may loose the bonds of wickedness, undo
the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free; through the grace of Christ Jesus our
crucified and risen Savior. Amen.
Religion – the Way it Was Intended
is no doubt in my mind that RULES are part of the reason why organized religion
is shrinking, especially those rules that are rooted in the culture of ages
past—rules that don’t make sense in today’s world.
such rules, often unspoken, include:
Matthew 11: 28-30
by Rev. Frank Schaefer
ago, this list of rules was substantially longer (here are a few):
formal clothes to Church
isn’t optional, ushers will collect
seats (and offices) are “reserved” for faithful donors
applause during the church service
to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give
you rest,” (Matthew 11:28), he was talking about his idea of spirituality over
and against the spirituality that was preached by the priests and Pharisees of
to the movies
wearing of pants for women
pastoral role for women
Being religious in
first-century Judea meant that you had to observe the Purity Laws which included
the 600+ Laws of Moses, as well as hundreds more that were added by the
religious leaders. The Pharisees, especially, would load their followers down
with commandments, rules and expectations to a point where people couldn’t
possibly keep up with them.
Can you imagine how that
would have burdened people’s consciences? They must have lived in a constant
state of guilt.
This idea of religion that
advocates observance of rules as a path to salvation is all too common even to
this very day, and sadly, even prevails in Christianity.
But Jesus advocated for a
very different kind of spirituality, one that wasn’t based on fulfilling the
law, but one that was grounded in God’s love and compassion. That’s why grace,
forgiveness, love and compassion are recurring words in Jesus’ sermons, while
the Pharisees emphasized theological words such as: obedience, duty, sin,
punishment, and condemnation.
Jesus didn’t negate the
validity of the law, however. He just had a different emphasis. He once said
(Mark 2:27): “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the
sabbath” In other words, the law was created for us, to be a benefit,
established so we could be guided to live a good, happy and fulfilled life. We
are NOT supposed to serve and slave under the law in Jesus’ theology.
It is in this context that
Jesus says: “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.”
would certainly have gotten the people’s attention. What does he mean “my yoke
is easy?” How can a yoke ever be easy?
click here for the
full sermon manuscript.
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