Sunday July 5, 2020
July 5, 2020 Liturgy
Women’s Association Meeting- July 12, 2020 at 10am
Soft Idolatry Podcast- I’ll be co-leading a series on Revelation with Charissa and Alan this summer. I’ll drop a link to the podcast in the video description.
Revelation Sermon Series to start next week.
Bible Study resumes on Thursday at 2pm- Revelation
Call to Worship (Pastor lead, everyone participates)
6 Your throne, O God,[b] endures forever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity; 7 you love righteousness and hate wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; 8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
Opening Hymn- I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say (GtG 182)
I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Come unto me and rest; lay down, O weary one, lay down your head upon my breast.” I came to Jesus as I was, so weary, worn, and sad; I found in him a resting place, and he has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Behold, I freely give the living water, thirsty one; stoop down and drink and live.” I came to Jesus and I drank of that life giving stream; my thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in him.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s light; look unto me, your morn shall rise, and all your day be bright.” I came to Jesus, and I found in him my star, my sun; and in that light of life I’ll walk till traveling days are done.
Pastoral Prayer (Pastor)
Almighty God, in Jesus Christ you taught us to pray, and to offer our petitions to you in his name. Guide us by your Holy Spirit, that our prayers for others may serve your will and show your steadfast love; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord:
Let us pray for the world.
Let us pray for the church.
Let us pray for those who govern us.
Let us pray for world leaders.
Let us pray for the sick.
God of compassion, bless us and those we love, our friends and families that, drawing close to you, though we are apart, we may be drawn closer to each other, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
How do you find rest for your soul?
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Matthew 11:16-19 New International Version (NIV)
16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
17 “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
Matthew 11:25-30 New International Version (NIV)
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“All You Weary”
Let us pray,
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all of our hearts, be pleasing and acceptable to you, our rock and our redeemer…
I have a friend who is a small business owner. The last few months have not been easy for him. In March he had to figure out how to move his business online. By the time he had an online system in place, his business was permitted to re-open, but at 50% of capacity. Not all of his customers were comfortable coming in with everything going on. So he’s spent the last month figuring out what things to keep online, and what things to resume in person.
In order to do anything in person, he’s had to adopt the CDC’s guidelines for safe in person operations. His customers have to wear masks, wash their hands, and they can’t bring their kids with them when they come in. His customers don’t like the new rules. A few of them have taken their business elsewhere. A few of them have stayed, but complain about every new rule and procedure.
My friend is tired. Not the kind of tired that can be cured by a good night’s sleep or a few days off. He is weary. His tiredness is the kind that has sunken into his bones and that makes everyday tasks more difficult. He’s not sure what the future holds. He’s trying to do right by his customers who are like family. He’s worried about inviting his customers back and potentially exposing them to the virus. All of this worry is causing him to question who he is and why he opened this business in the first place.
As I was talking with him this week, I so wanted to offer him the good news of today’s Scripture reading. To all those carrying heavy burdens, Jesus offers rest. Jesus says, ‘come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”’
The rest Jesus offers isn’t rest like a vacation. Where we take a break from our work and our responsibilities to have fun with our friends and our families. No the rest that Jesus offers is freedom from the stress that comes with thinking that the sun rises and sets as a result of our efforts. It is a reminder Jesus is in control, even and especially when the world around us feels out of control. It is an invitation to lay at Jesus’ feet all that which makes us feel less than God’s beloved children.
The rest that Jesus offers runs counter to our cultural narrative that we can have whatever we want if we just work hard enough. This Protestant Work Ethic has given us a false sense of control over our lives and our futures. I think the pandemic has taught all of us that things happen outside of our control that we couldn’t have predicted or avoided. We cannot outwork a virus. It is just something we are all going to have to learn to live with.
We learn to live with things that are outside of our control when we remember who we are and whose we are. Jesus is inviting us to rest in our identity as beloved, baptized children of God. In our baptisms we receive a new identity- we are children of God. All of the other identities thrust upon us- identities like small business owner, pastor, mother, or grandfather. These identities must fall second to the identity that was given to us in our baptism. Rest is discovering that nothing we do will ever separate us from the love of God. That through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is with us always.
I know in my own life I tend to become weary when I lost sight of who I am and what I was created to do. In the early weeks of this pandemic, when I was figuring out how to transition worship online, I found myself getting very overwhelmed. I became a pastor to preach and teach and walk with people through their faith journey. And now I have to be an Instagram Influencer. I was stressing about camera angles and audio quality and lighting and what to wear.
Around Easter week I had to have a come to Jesus talk with myself. You are a pastor. You are not an Instagram influencer. Your job is to preach the good news and offer words of comfort during this difficult time. Keep offering your badly lit videos that don’t have fancy introductions. Know that even though it isn’t perfect, it is the most faithful thing you can do with the time and resources you have. You can rest assured that the call to pastoral ministry is to be faithful, not perfect.
The next time I see my friend I hope I have the courage to tell him that he’s doing a great job in an impossible situation. I hope I can remind him that he is more than what he does or how much money he makes. And that I want him to find rest. But he will only find rest if takes the time to figure out who he is (his identity) and what he’s here for (his purpose). Once he has some clarity over those things, the next time a global pandemic hits he will continue to make decisions for his business that align with its vision and purpose. He’ll be able to be flexible with what he does because he knows what he’s working towards.
Jesus ends his instructions to the disciples by telling them to take his yoke upon them for ‘my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” In the Ancient Near East, yokes were laid on the necks and shoulders of oxen and also on prisoners of war and slaves. What Jesus is saying here is that you should not look at discovering who you are in Christ as a burden, but a joy. Jesus’ way of discipleship is not burdensome but life-giving. To take his yoke upon you is to be forever connected to God’s kingdom of justice, mercy, and compassion. It is to take full and complete advantage of what you will do with your one wild and precious life.
This week I invited you all to reflect on how you find rest for your souls. Here I’m not necessarily talking about things like gardening or knitting or exercising. Or even going on vacation for a couple of weeks. I’m talking about things like prayer, worship, journaling, and repentance. The spiritual disciplines that we worked our way through during Lent. These disciplines are not meant to add things to an already long to-do list. But they are simple things we can do throughout the day that give us a way to discover anew who we are and whose we are. When the weight of the world becomes to0 much to bear, Jesus offers us rest for our souls through the spiritual disciplines.
Friends as we prepare to go from this place, I hope you are excited to discover ways you can find rest for your souls. Summertime is the perfect time to engage the spiritual disciples anew as many of us have a little more time for reading, reflection, and prayer. Jesus beckons us to return to him to receive all that we need. Including who we are, and what we were put on this earth to do.
Thanks be to God,
In Jesus’ name,
Closing Hymn- In God Alone
In God alone my soul can find rest and peace, in God my peace and joy. Only in God my soul can find its rest, find its rest and peace.
You go nowhere by accident. Wherever you go, God is sending you. Wherever you are, God has put you there. God has a plan and a purpose to you being there. Christ who dwells in you has something he wants to do, through you, wherever you are. Believe this and go in his grace and love and power, Amen.