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  • The Big White Inspirational Church. No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here.
  • The Big White Inspirational Church. No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here.
  • The Big White Inspirational Church. No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here.

5th Sunday after Pentecost         7/5/20

 

Matthew’s passage today begins with some harsh words for the religious leaders and those in the occupying forces from Rome who keep the people under their thumb, controlling almost every aspect of their lives.

Jesus says John came, but because he looked and acted differently than what you expected of the one proclaiming that God’s kingdom was near, you dismissed him, calling him a demon.

And, Jesus says, I came and healed people right in front of your eyes and I taught and preached that the kingdom of God was HERE, NOW, and you dismissed me, too, as someone who associated with the wrong kinds of people and as a “glutton and a drunkard.”

Your beliefs in what you thought was good and right and proper have kept you from seeing the truth about John, the prophet, and me, the Son of God.

Be wary about holding too close to a system of beliefs that prevents you from seeing good in someone or from changing your mind when what’s in front of your eyes contradicts what you’ve held as true or correct for so long.

And then he offers an invitation to those in the audience, who have been oppressed by the religious and political systems and he says “come to me…and I will give you rest.”

Jesus promises them that life in God’s realm-which is starting with him now, not sometime in the future, will be different.

And then he adds: “take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”

People listening to Jesus knew, just as we do, that the yoke was a familiar symbol of

                                      Burden bearing

                                                Oppression

                                                          And subjugation.

They were laid on the necks and shoulders of oxen, prisoners of war, and slaves, as was true in our own history of slavery, a legacy that continues to haunt us today.

I’m sorry, but I can’t cozy up to a word with those kinds of images.

But something Jesus’ audience knew that most, if not all of us don’t know, is that in Judaism, there is a positive connotation of “yoke” that the rabbis used to talk about.

“Yoke” means the wisdom that comes from devoting one’s self to God by learning from the Torah.

Now that works for me. So, what Jesus is saying is that “Come to me” is an invitation to come and learn from him by watching and listening to the way he speaks and conducts his life. And then go and an invitation to do likewise.         

And, Jesus promises, if we do live this way – which is not easy and is full of risks – then we will find a rest the world can never give us.

“Come to me” is an invitation to surrender our freedom to do whatever we want and go from selfishness to sharing; from maintaining systems of divisive power to building bridges of peace and justice.

“Come to me” calls on us to help heal broken relationships and turn pain and fear into channels of God’s grace and forgiveness.

“Come to me” calls on us to live lives of integrity, responsibility and service, called into action on behalf of the living God as together we help to usher God’s kingdom of justice, mercy, compassion and love into the world.

“Come to me” is a call to live with the reality that we can make a difference in the world.

Because it is true!

May we become a people following the way of Jesus AND citizens of this great country, whose understanding of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness means life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness FOR ALL.

May God make it so for you and for me.

Amen.

 

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First Congregational United Church of Christ
5 East Main Street
P.O. Box 66
Berlin Heights, Ohio 44814
Phone (419)588-2102
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