Gleanings… March 2021
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 souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NRSV
If ever there was a time that we needed to hear these words, it is now. Not only are we tired, we are tired of being tired. We have given this condition a name: COVID fatigue. All in all, we are tired of having to deal with the restrictions on where we can go, what we can do, and who we can see. Yes, we know that there is good science behind these limitations on personal freedom, but that does not mean that we want to live this way forever. When is it all going to end?
Though we apply this scenario to our time and situation, I expect that the Israelites in Egypt fumed in like manner. Every time a foreign power dominated the people of Israel and Judea, there were grumbles against those who were in charge and responsible for leading the people.
The more history we read, the more instances we see of people being sick and tired of being sick and tired. So, why are we (a very generic “we”) grumbling, fighting with one another, and seeking to impose our way upon others? What have we not understood from history?
If we look to the life of Jesus as it is shown to us through the Gospels, we encounter one who paid little attention to the occupation forces. Disease was a constant reality in their lives. Issues of power, position, and possessions caused many to ignore the call to love God and love their neighbor. To these, Jesus offers an alternative way to live that is focused on thinking less of self and more of others.
In Matthew’s gospel (quoted above) we read Jesus’ call to a lifestyle that benefits the follower by removing the isolation that comes with self-direction. Instead of rebelling against the limitations being imposed by other forces, the people were asked to submit to the loving care of God who, more than any other power, wants his creation to know his love expressed in his care for all. This same truth applies to us today.
Few, if any, are comfortable with being told what to do all the time. We prefer to be encouraged to do the right thing, but that implies that all will respond by doing the right thing. Maybe that is why we have laws and mandates that we must obey.
Our Lenten journey last year was made with the anticipation that life would soon return to “normal.” That we are still struggling with moving beyond a period of isolation and reflection causes many to think that they have a better way. Yet, the pandemic refuses to abate and we face a continuing struggle of knowing what is the best course of action to take.
How about taking Jesus up on his offer to give us rest? Doesn’t that sound nice? Sure, there will be some things that we won’t be permitted to do, but releasing the worry and the constant struggling will give us so much peace, it might actually be worth it.
So, here is my invitation: how about joining me in caring more about others—their needs, hurts, pains, griefs, and struggles—and less about what I am, or not, permitted to do. God knows what we need and it has already been given. Maybe living with that truth will be the assurance others are looking for, that they are not alone or forgotten, that we will come through this better together than separate. May we be God’s gift of peace to all.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers. Amen.
Pastor Braxton ><>