|Pentecost 20, Year A||October 18, 2020||Pentecost 20, Proper 24, Year A||I Thessalonians 1:1-10, Psalm 96|
|Pentecost 19, Year A||October 11, 2020||Pentecost 19, Proper 23, Year A||Philippians 4:1-9|
|Pentecost 18, Year A||October 4, 2020||Pentecost 18, Year A||Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 80:7-14, Philippians 3:4b-14, Matthew 21:33-46|
|Pentecost 17, Year A – Elizabeth Heimbach||September 27, 2020||Pentecost 17, Proper 21 Year A||Matthew 21:23-32|
|Pentecost 16, Year A||September 20, 2020||Pentecost 16, Proper 20, Year A 2020 The Season of Creation||Matthew 20:1-16|
|Pentecost 15, Year A||September 13, 2020||Pentecost 15, Proper 19||Genesis 50:15-21, Matthew 18:21-35|
|Pentecost 14, Year A||September 6, 2020||Pentecost 14, Proper 18, Year A||Ezekiel 33:7-11, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20|
|Pentecost 13, Year A||August 30, 2020||Pentecost, 13, Proper 17, Year A||Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 16:21-28|
|Pentecost 12, Year A||August 23, 2020||Pentecost 12, , Proper 16, Year A||Isaiah 51:1-6, Ps 138, Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 16:13-20|
|Pentecost 11, Year A||August 16, 2020||Pentecost 11, Proper 15, Year A||Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Matthew 15:10-28|
|Pentecost 10, Year A||August 9, 2020||Pentecost 10, Proper 14, Year A||I Kings 19:9-18, Romans 10:5-15, Matthew 14:22-33|
|Pentecost 9, Year A||August 2, 2020||Pentecost 9, Proper 13, Year A||Psalm 145:8-9, 15-22; Matthew 14:13-21|
|Pentecost 8, Year A||July 26, 2020||Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12, 2020||Romans 8:26-39, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52|
|Pentecost 7, Year A||July 19, 2020||Pentecost 7, Proper 11, Year A||Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30,36-43|
|Pentecost 6, Year A – Evening||July 12, 2020||Pentecost 6, Proper 10, Year A||Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23|
Pentecost 5, Year A
Sermon Date:July 5, 2020
Scripture: Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Liturgy Calendar: Pentecost 5, Proper 9, Year A
“Bearing a heavy weight together” – Komarno, Slovakia
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are 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 soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In today’s gospel, Jesus is talking to people who have been weighed down with the heavy burdens of trying to earn their way into God’s kingdom by keeping a variety of religious requirements. The people are also burdened by many other things as well, and they are weary.
Jesus promises them rest. The burdened people who heard these words must have suddenly started paying close attention to what Jesus was saying because they were tired, and rest sounded really good.
The rest that Jesus offers is a special kind of rest in which we continue to work and to carry burdens, but our work and our burdens become lighter when we put on the yoke of Jesus.
In case you’ve never seen one, a yoke is a wooden beam that distributes the weight between two creatures, so that the load is shared evenly and the two pull together.
So Jesus promises that when we take his yoke, we go in tandem with Jesus, yoked with him. What an honor that is!
When we are yoked with Jesus, then Jesus will teach us how to be gentle and humble in heart, so that we match his temperament, his stride, his strong, steady and yet calm persistence in the work that God gives us to do, and we do all that we do not to bring attention to ourselves, but to point toward God and to give God the glory, as Jesus does.
My sister Lynnette, who is a Moravian minister, is here with us today. She can tell us much more than I can about one of the saints of the Moravian Church, Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, who lived from 1700 to 1760. Scholar George Forell describes as a “noble Jesus freak.”
Count Zinzendorf was yoked to Jesus from an early age. In an on line article from Prayerhub, I found out that when Zinzendorf was four, he wrote out this covenant and signed it. “Dear Savior, do Thou be mine, and I will be Thine.” And his guiding principle throughout his life was “I have one passion, it is Jesus, Jesus only.”
Ulrich Luz, in his definitive commentary on Matthew’s gospel, reports that Zinzendorf says that being humble means that we carry out good so quickly that our left hands don’t even know what our right hands are doing.
And—that we don’t take the time to think about our past good deeds, because we immediately have another thing given to us to do.
Zinzendorf says that “This is what it means to learn humility from the Father.”
But being yoked to Jesus and carrying out the work that God has given us to do isn’t all—yes, the yoke is easy and the burden is light, but God does not expect us to wear the yoke of being busy and carrying out good work twenty-four hours a day.
Jesus says very plainly, “You will find rest for your souls.”
At the end of the day, the oxen are unyoked, fed, watered and allowed to rest so that they can work the following day.
Rest for our souls is essential, not just taking a break from the activities of the day, getting enough sleep, or resting physically.
Rest is also a sign of humility—because when we rest, we confess to the fact that God is in control and that God will work God’s purposes out even if we aren’t busy trying to bring in the kingdom of God for twenty four hours a day.
Rest for our souls is a spiritual rest, the kind of rest that happens when we take time to sit down simply to listen for God and to God. Resting in prayer is the most restorative rest that a disciple can ever wish to have.
And this restorative physical rest is the rest that then allows us to carry out the amazing work that God will ask us to do if we are listening.
Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians knew that this rest in prayer was of the utmost importance in being yoked with Jesus.
The Moravians that had gathered under Count Zinzendorf’s protection in Saxony became the Moravian Community of Herrnhut. The Christian Institute article I read reported that the community found that after five years of being together, they were torn apart with dissension, arguing over doctrine, and in general, they were just spiritually weak.
So Count Zinzendorf and others covenanted to pray and to work for revival.
In May, 1727, revival came. The presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst took away dissension and brought in its place joy, cooperation and new life and power. “Everyone desired that above everything else that the Holy Spirit might have full control. Self-love and self-will as well as all disobedience disappeared, and an overwhelming flood of grace swept us all out into the great ocean of divine love.” Zinzendorf described it as “a sense of the nearness of Christ given to everyone present and also to others of their community who were working elsewhere at the time.” The spirit of prayer was so strong throughout that summer that twenty four men and twenty four women covenanted to spend one hour each day in scheduled prayer.
Others also enlisted in the hourly intercession.
“’For over a hundred years the members of the Moravian Church all shared in the ‘hourly intercession.’ At home and abroad, on land and sea, this prayer watch ascended unceasingly to the Lord,’ wrote historian A. J. Lewis.
Six months after the prayer watch began, Count Zinzendorf felt led to talk about evangelism in places as far flung as the West Indies, Greenland, and Turkey. Twenty-six people stepped forward the next day to volunteer. Being yoked to Jesus would take them far from home, but their yoke would be easy, and their burden light, in spite of the hardships ahead, for Jesus would go with them.
By 1791, 65 years after the prayer vigil had started, this small community of Moravians had sent over 300 missionaries out to the ends of the earth—evangelistic work given to these people to do as a direct result of resting in God and listening to God in prayer.
Here at St Peter’s in the year 2020, results of this pandemic have brought our busy life together at church to a standstill. Worship and Bible study are on line. The food distribution has been on hold. The Village Dinner has been cancelled again this month. And even as we begin to worship in person again, we will do so quite differently. The way we will carry out the food distribution will also be different.
This congregation will be different than we were back in March when we come back together, in ways we cannot yet know.
Even our surroundings will be different, now that the nursery building is gone.
We know that we will be doing one new thing, which will start soon. I hope that you will join in the study Sacred Ground, a ten session study that will give us a way to talk with one another about the subject of how our skin colors have affected our lives together, not an easy conversation to have, but a necessary one if we are committed to really being One in the Spirit and One in the Lord as God calls us to be. But where this study will lead, and what God will ask us to do because of what we learn is something that we cannot yet see.
Maybe it’s time for us to commit to an “hourly intercession” over the next year here at St Peter’s, to rest in God and to open our ears and to listen for what God will tell us about how we are to be yoked with Jesus here at St Peter’s in the time ahead.
Maybe Jesus is calling us with those words of the lover in today’s reading from the Song of Solomon. “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Come away and spend some time with me in prayer.
Prayer opens our ears so that we can hear the voice of our Beloved Jesus.
I wonder what will happen if we truly ask Jesus to give us rest in prayer so that we can hear his voice and learn from him.
Imagine what will happen if our guiding principle becomes, like Count Zinzendorf’s, “one passion, it is Jesus, and Jesus only.”
What will we learn? Who will we become? What work will God give us to do?
Only prayer and time will tell.
Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 8-20 A Commentary in the series Hermeneia—A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. “11:25-30,” pages 155-176. Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN. 2001.