Come to me all you who are heavy laden...
July 6, 2014
Bonnie A. Perry
May the God who Creates us..
Please be seated.
Do you have a hard time, turning off the chatter in your brain? Mine is kind of non-stop. Like the birds in the early morning a constant chirping, sometimes it's all I can hear and sometimes it is a soft background holding all of my other thoughts.
I've been thinking a lot lately about awe and transcendence, of holiness and meaning. I've been thinking about what matters in life. And the flip-side of that. How so very much of what I worry about well—it seems to be the same thing over and over again---"Am I good enough?" "Did I say the right thing—more importantly—did I manage to do something that is helpful?"
I long for the goodness of the Lord. What about you? Do you look for signs? Little notes and messages from on high? Bits and pieces, atoms and particles of the universe aligned in a way that offer a direction of some sort. I do. I have to say that I am bitter and somewhat resentful of the men and women who populate the chapters of scripture and have real life conversations with God. Back and forth, question and answer, a repartee of real substance and matter. And I sit and wait, but not too long, for I sometimes seem to have the attention span of newt or a gnat. But when I do, when I make myself sit and wait for the Lord, I listen and I hear....the birds, the wind, the rain and myself. Being faithful is sometimes hard in a digital age. I'd like pictures God-- please, an instagram, a tweet, a status update that I could point to and say, "There's the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Lea and Rachel. There's the God of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." We're not alone.
"Come to me, all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. 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."
Or as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, his translation of the Bible in contemporary language,
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out by 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. 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. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.
What does it feel like to know that we are not the only ones carrying the burden? What does it feel like to know that we are not alone?
The other night a group of us were making plans for the All Saints' backpack blessing service in September. After a meeting and a half of trying to wrestle to the ground the myriad issues of education: public, private, charter, selective enrollment, funding, race, class, school closings and school openings it felt as if we were neck deep in the quagmire.
What to do? What would matter? I'm not sure that God usually speaks to people in committee meetings, but maybe that's how things go now. When people write the sacred history of this time and this place, perhaps they'll include a section on inspired insights in the course of a Monday evening, rain-soaked meeting. Will those bits and pieces be any less or more than burning bushes, visiting angels or still small voices? Something shifted though we had very many thoughts and twice as many opinions, something shifted: We went from being overwhelmed and stuck, to inspired and clear about a few first steps all of which are tangible, entertaining and doable. How all of the schools we know need paper. Paper is something we know how to get. What if we gathered a ton of paper? A literal ton of paper, boxes and reams of paper: plain and construction. Paper for printing tests, and worksheets, paper for cutting and coloring and folding, paper for Art and History, Science and Math a ton of paper for our students and schools. What if we got a ton of paper which we could give to every school in the area? It's a start. Not the solution, not the ultimate fix, but interestingly enough, our amazing community kitchen and food pantry where we offer some 300 of our neighbors, several bags of groceries, dental exams, nursing visits, and if they'd like a delicious, nutritious, family-style meal each week. That all started some 21 years ago when we gave away two bags of groceries to the two people who came the very first night we advertised. It's a start.
I think maybe that's what God's call is all about.
Come to me—all you who are heavy laden—it's a start.
As Eugene Peterson says, "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. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
I am convinced that those little notes and pieces of the Holy, the atoms and molecules of our God are all about, as it was then it is now, where might you see them? In this summer time of ours. A time that maybe depending upon your life and your work, a time that may be exceptionally busy or a bit freer—where in this time of some warmth and light—where is God—visible in our lives—yet seemingly unnoticed? A committee meeting, a staff gathering, a family bar-b-que, vacation road trips, long, long physically exhausting days, or relaxing time on the beach in the midst of the evening setting sun—where is God?
Who says to each and every one of us—
Oh please—stop doing it all on your own.
Together we can get this.
Come to me all you who are heavy laden. Take my yoke 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.
"So it is," says the Lord.