Sermon and Liturgy (2) for Ordinary 14 - Proper 9 - Year A
Romans 7:15-25a; Psalm 145; Matthew 11:16-19,25-30
"Come Unto Me - For My Burden Is Easy"

READING: Romans 7:15-25a; Psalm 145; Matthew 11:16-19,25-30 SERMON : "Come Unto Me - For My Burden Is Easy" Rev. Richard J. Fairchild a-or13snsx 988000 The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon for the upcoming Sunday. Hymn numbers, designated as VU are found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United". SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC. Sources: The Children's Story, "When I Am Down, He Picks Me Up" is by Charles Kirkpatrick, (¸ 2002 and is reproduced here by permission. The sermon is indebted to material from "William H. Willimon, "Some Vacation" in Pulpit Resource, Vol.21, No.3. Year A, July, August, September 1993., and King Duncan's "Caught In The Spin Cycle", a sermon on Matthew 11:25-30 from Dynamic Preaching, July 1996. GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE (* = please stand) * WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Psalm 34) L The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. P And also with you. L Come bless the Lord, let us exalt God's name together. P God, the most High, takes care of us, we shall never be ashamed. L Look to the Lord and let your light shine, our God frees us from all our fears. P Our God keeps guard over us and answers all our prayers When the righteous cry out, God hears them and rescues them from all their troubles. L Taste and see that our God is good. P Happy are those who take refuge in Him. * PRAYER OF APPROACH Let us pray: We thank you God for being with us each and every day - and especially being present with us in a special way when we gather to worship you and hear your word. We ask your blessing upon our assembly. Be swift to answer the prayers of our hearts and receive from our hands all that is due to you. Be present with us and help us to honour you and learn from you and to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love one another in the way that Jesus loves us. We ask it in his name. Amen. * HYMN: "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" - VU 664 CHILDREN'S TIME Object: Several items that are not too heavy - such as a brick or a ten pound dumbbell and an automobile jack. Theme: Jesus will bear your burdens (Gospel of the day) Source: "When I Am Down, He Picks Me Up" by Charles Kirkpatrick, ( ¸2002, by permission. SCRIPTURE: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11: 28 [NIV] How strong are you? Do you think you are pretty strong? How many of you think you could pick up this brick? How about a dumbbell like this one? Well, you must be pretty strong then. How many of you think you could pick up a car? Oh, you don't think you could pick up a car? Well, I think you could if you had some help. Here is something that would help you. It is an automobile jack. If you put this jack underneath the car and pump the handle, you can easily lift a car that weighs over 1,000 kilograms! Yes, with the help of a jack, you can lift a car, but you couldn't do it alone, could you? Some of you have some pretty heavy burdens to carry in life. Perhaps you have a physical handicap that makes your life difficult. Or, perhaps your father has lost his job and your family is having financial difficulties. Maybe someone in your family has cancer or some other serious illness. I don't know what the burdens are that you have in your life, but I do know that there are some that you just can't carry by yourself. Well, guess what? You don't have to! Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." There is no reason for you to struggle with burdens that are too heavy for you. If you will turn to Jesus, he will help you carry your burdens. And there is no burden too heavy for Jesus. PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER Let us pray.....Dear Lord Jesus, - we are thankful that when we stumble - under the load of life's burdens, you are there to pick us up - and help us on the way. Amen. And in the word's Jesus taught us, let us pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen * HYMN: "Praise Our Maker" - VU 316 SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS: ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SPECIAL MATTERS - Welcome and Announcements - Birthdays and Anniversaries - Special Matters - Sharing Joys and Concerns LET US NOW PREPARE TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD - FIRST WITH A SILENCE - THEN WHEN THE MUSIC STARTS BY SINGING THE INTROIT IN THE BULLETIN TIME OF SILENCE & AN INTROIT FOR THE WORD (verse 2 - VU 371) Open my ears that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear. Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God they will to see. Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine! A READING FROM ROMANS 7:15-25a (NIV) I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! L This is the Word of the Lord P Thanks Be To God. RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 145 (VU 866) & Gloria Patri (sung): Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen A READING FROM MATTHEW 11:16-19,25-30 (NIV) Jesus said "To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' 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 actions." 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. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. "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. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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." L This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord P Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ. * HYMN: "I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say" - VU 626 SERMON: "Come Unto Me - For My Burden Is Easy" O Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds and in the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the thoughts that we form. Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen. Amen. "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy burdened - 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." These are well loved words - perhaps the best known of the promises of Christ. They serve as the call to worship at many a church and can be found on the lips of new and more experienced Christians alike. I want to look at them with you today - in two parts. The first part is the words "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy burdened - and I will give you rest." What don't we here today know about burdens! Who here hasn't had to carry some mighty heavy loads. "Come unto me", Jesus said, "and I will give you rest." An interesting fact: In the early days of automobiles, it was common for eating and drinking places to be built on the tops of long hills. I know that near where I grew up on the old Island Highway, there is a restaurant called the Malahat Chalet - still located at the top of the longest grade between Nanaimo and Victoria. It was not located there for the view, nor were most of the others you can still find around North America at the tops of hills and mountains. These locations were for the convenience of people who needed to stop and let their overheated radiators cool down. That is one of the functions of Worship for many of us - a time for rest and refreshment - when we let our overheated radiators cool down. That too is one of the functions of prayer and of Christian fellowship - whether alone in our quiet spot where we come before God each day, or in our homes and in the homes of our friends and neighbours - to bring to us the rest and refreshement that we all need so much. There is nothing quite like coming to the Lord and setting aside our burdens for a while - nothing quite like having our batteries recharged, our radiators cooled down and our spirits lifted. All of us here, from the youngest to the oldest, know about burdens. I pray you all know as well about the rest that is ours when we come to the Lord and focus anew on what it is that is important - the rest the comes when we take a break, when we take time, to connect with our Saviour. When Jesus spoke of burdens and of our coming unto him he was most certainly talking about the burdens of care and of anxiety and of labour that we are all familiar with. But, as a reading of the gospel quickly indicates, Jesus was also speaking of the burdens of religion that some of us carry - the burdens that are tied to our backs by our the pharisees and scribes of our age - the burdens of endless rules and regulations concerning what we can and cannot do - at work, at play, at home - and at church. Jesus broke radically with the religious pattern that had been established by the god fearing persons of his day. He ate and drank while others fasted. He plucked grain and fed his disciples on the Sabbath - while others looked on in disapproval. He rejoiced in God while others prayed solemnly with long faces. He called God 'Father' while others dared not even speak the name of the Lord. Jesus came to us to lift the heavy burdens of life and of religion from our backs. He reminds us that the Sabbath is made for us - not we for the Sabbath - he urges us to know that faith is a thing that is meant to set us free - free to truly worship - and to truly serve our God - with joy and love in our hearts - on the Sabbath and on each and every day in between. Jesus promises rest from the burdens that we carry - rest from the burdens of legalism and judgement and from the weight of anxiety and worry and from the yoke of unrewarding labour and endless labour for that which cannot satisfy. I was speaking with someone this week who told me the story of his son. His son was brought up in a godly home - a home where he was taught to work hard and save money - to avoid debt if at all possible - and to pay whatever debt he had as quickly as possible. It seems that these latter virtues really stuck with him - and when he got married he worked very hard and laboured intensely to purchase a very nice home. Recently, at a relatively young age, he finished paying off the mortgage on this home - and found himself strangely depressed. He had accomplished what few people accomplish at his age, he was free from the worry that so many people have, yet he found himself feeling empty and adrift. He told his father that he thought that he would feel wonderful on the day that he burned his mortgage - but he didn't. He then added these words: "Dad, you know, when I was young and gave my heart to Jesus - you know something - there is no feeling like the feeling I had then - the feeling of being washed totally clean - the feeling of having Christ come into my life. I've never felt as good as I felt on that day." Come unto me - all you who are tired - all you who are feeling drained - all you who are feeling empty - all you who are burdened by a sense of disappointment and let down - all you who are exhausted by the struggles of life and weighed down by your sense of duty and of what is right and wrong - and I will give you rest. I will cleanse you - I will fill you with new joy - and establish you in a relationship with God that will give you new life - here and in the world to come. That is the first part of what Jesus had to say - of what Jesus promised. The second part is this - "take my yoke upon you and learn from me." This seems a contradiction - only Jesus could promise rest from our burdens in one breath and turn around and speak of taking up another burden and another yoke in the next.... What we need is vacation - a rest - not more labour. Or so our worldly logic would dictate. After all a burden is still a burden - a yoke is still a yoke. What Jesus was driving at however is that there is no such thing as a burden free life - life always has burdens, but WHAT KIND of BURDEN it is that we carry. As Pastor I spend much of my time providing comfort to people who are cracking under the burdens of affluence - mortgages, debts on two cars - how to deal with keeping together a home full of appliances and conveniences which are meant to give them free time but enslave them instead to working harder and harder to pay for them all. I deal with those who lives are overwhelmed with constant activity - and conflict - providing counsel to those who are weighed down heavily by the burden of dealing with the hassles of others - the activities of others - hassles and activities with their children - their in-laws - their parents - their spouses - their bosses - and their own selves.. One thing I have learned in this is that life's greatest burden is not having too much to do, nor having too much to care about - some of the happiest folk I know are the busiest and care the most. Rather the greatest burden we have is our constant engagement with the trivial and the unimportant - with the temporary and the passing - - with the ultimately uncontrollable and unpredictable. The issue in life is not if we shall be burdened - but with what shall we be burdened, it is not if we shall be yoked - but to what and with whom we shall be yoked. Jesus has no interest in unburdening us so that we can be free or liberated or self-esteemed or all those other modern infatuations which are themselves debilitating burdens. Jesus is interested in lifting the burdens off our backs that drain us, that suck the life out of us, so that he can place another on them that is better suited to us. He is interested in removing the harness that we forge for ourselves, or the world forges for us with its constant demands and pressures, so that he can place around our necks his own yoke - his own harness - the yoke, the harness, the burden - that brings to us new life, new energy, new joy. To us - and to others through us.. The promise and the reality is that the Burden that Christ has for us, the Yoke he offers to us when we come to him and learn from him, is that it is an easy burden, and that in wearing his yoke and learning from him, we will find rest. Several years ago now, when Charlene and I were at the Annual Meeting of the London Conference of The United Church of Canada, we stayed at the house of an old farmer and his wife and they showed to us a yoke - a yoke designed for a person to use -and you know - it was a most remarkable device. It was carved and shaped in such a way that it fit beautifully about my shoulders and around the back of my neck. It was uncomfortable for Charlene however - as it was for our host, though it fit his wife. Such yokes as the one I tried on that day were designed for carrying buckets of water and it was incredibly comfortable. I felt that I could have carried two buckets full of life giving water very easily for a very long distance without a problem. The yoke that Jesus puts upon us is an easy one - it is designed for us - individually and personally it does not drag us down, it does not chafe or bind or cause us to collapse in exhaustion. It is well fitted for us. Jesus' promise is not that we shall find a good vacation with him - that we will be able to get away from it all, but rather that he will refresh our souls when we come into his presence - and that when we venture forth - with him - into the world again, that he will replace the burdens that destroy and exhaust us with a burden, and a yoke, that will be life affirming and easier to carry. His promise is that what we come unto him, when we learn from him, and offer ourselves to him, that he will minister to us and through us - that he will give strength and hope and joy and peace, and patience and love, that he will give us new life - here and now and in the world to come. How does the hymn go Make me a captive Lord, and then I shall be free force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be. I sink in life's alarms when by myself I stand; imprison me within thy arms, and strong shall be my hands. "Come unto me all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens 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." PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (Rx - And In Your Love Answer) Singing #400 at the start and the end of the prayer time) Lord, listen to your children praying. Lord, send your Spirit in this place; Lord, listen to your children praying, send us love, send us power, send us grace! Lord - we come unto you - and we lift up our burdens to you - our worry - our anxiety - our fear - our tiredness - our pain - and we ask that would remove them from us put in their place your burden and your yoke. Help us to learn from you and to rejoice in you and to serve you that we may find the rest that you have promised. Make us your captives so that we might be truly free. Lord, hear our prayer... Father - we come to you to this day not only for ourselves - but for others - for those who do not know your peace - for those who have not yet found any rest - for those who struggle with those things we have brought to you. We ask your healing to be upon those who are sick --- your strength to be with those who are tired -- your wisdom and your love to be with those who live with despair and fear. Lord hear our prayer for those we lift before you now.... BIDDING PRAYER.... Lord, hear our prayer... Finally, O Lord, we pray for your blessing to be upon this congregation and upon this church so that your presence to be seen vividly in what we and our brothers and sisters in Christ do each day. We pray that your joy and your love will flow freely in us and through us as we take up your yoke and follow where you lead us. We ask all these things and we thank you and we adore you, in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Lord, listen to your children praying. Lord, send your Spirit in this place; Lord, listen to your children praying, send us love, send us power, send us grace! MINUTE FOR MISSION * SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of Dedication O God -unto you we offer these gifts - bless them and use them and us in your service that this church might be a light leading the way to you and the salvation you offer freely to all. We ask it in Jesus' name. * DEPARTING HYMN: "Be Thou My Vision" - VU 642 * COMMISSIONING (Unison): In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of Christ. * BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN Go in peace - love and care for one another in the name of Christ Jesus - and may the love of God fill you, - the wisdom of God guide you, - and the strength of God support you and comfort you, both now and forevermore. Amen * CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace" - VU 964 copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2002 - 2006 please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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