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5th Sunday after Pentecost

"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."    Matthew 11:28

Texts & Discussion:
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67
Psalm 45:10-17
Zechariah 9:9-12
Psalm 145:8-14
Romans 7:15-25a
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30


This Week's Themes:
Providence / God's Guidance
Struggle With Sin


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.




Children's Messages:



Sermon Excerpt:

Religion – the Way it Was Intended  
Matthew 11: 28-30

by Rev. Frank Schaefer


There 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.

Examples of such rules, often unspoken, include:

  • Wearing formal clothes to Church
  • Giving isn’t optional, ushers will collect
  • Certain seats (and offices) are “reserved” for faithful donors
  • No applause during the church service
Many years ago, this list of rules was substantially longer (here are a few):

  • No going to the movies
  • No watching TV
  • No wearing of pants for women
  • No makeup
  • No pastoral role for women
When Jesus said"Come 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 his time.

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.”

Jesus' words would certainly have gotten the people’s attention. What does he mean “my yoke is easy?” How can a yoke ever be easy?

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