Matthew 11:28-30, Isaiah 40:25-31
We are told a couple of things in today’s passages. The first is that the yoke of Jesus is easy and light. What is a yoke? What do you think about that?
It doesn’t really look so easy does it? or comfortable?
Another translation of “easy” here is “well fitting” – in other words, the yoke of God fits us…it is a fit that makes all of life easier and more comfortable.
I’m sure most or all of you have heard the story of the man who once met a boy carrying a smaller disabled boy on his back. "That's a heavy load you are carrying there," exclaimed the man. "He ain't heavy; he's my brother!" responded the boy.
The point is that no burden is too heavy when it's given in love and carried in love. When we yoke our lives with Jesus, he also carries our burdens with us and gives us his strength to follow in his way of love. When Jesus yokes us to him, which he always invites, we, too, help care for the world. But if we are doing it for the right reasons – because we love God and love God’s people, then these burdens, too will feel light for us as well.
The thing is, I think it can be hard for all of us to do God’s work always for the right reasons. In one congregation that I served years ago, there was a woman there who did absolutely everything for the church. She volunteered to do it all, no one asked her to. She felt she could do it better and wanted it done right and that it was her job to do it. But at the same time she felt resentful that she had to do everything. She was doing it because she wanted to be appreciated. She wasn’t doing it because she loved to serve God and God’s people in this way. We can never earn enough appreciation for all that we do. So if that is why we are doing something, we will become resentful. But the truth is that we will all have times like this. Or times when we are tired, or times when it just feels like too much. Times when, like the second scripture tells us, even the young men will run out of energy.
And then, we are told, we will find strength in WAITING for God.
This, too, seems to be a contradiction. Usually waiting is not easy. It doesn’t renew us. It feels like a waste of time and space. It, too, can lead to feelings of rage and frustration. Especially when we are overworked, waiting for God – to lift the burden, to give us clarify in discernment, to give us that thing we think we really need, or that healing or that relationship or whatever it is…waiting can be frustrating.
But in today’s passages we are told that taking the time to wait for God renews us, gives us strength. That while God knows everything about us and sees our pain and our strength waning or even failing at times, when we take the time to wait for God, we are told we will find inexhaustible stores of strength.
Advent is a time of waiting. Or rather, it’s supposed to be. And by that “waiting” scripture doesn’t mean standing in line at the department stores waiting to purchase the gifts for our loved ones. It doesn’t mean anxiously counting the days before Christmas, either. That “waiting” is the waiting that we are least used to, especially during the business of Advent. This “waiting” means spending time, quietly, with God. Taking the time to listen, to be, to sit and wait for what God has to tell us, where God needs to lead us, what God wants for us to “have” or be.
I don’t need to tell you about all the studies that show that meditation actually leads to increased health, happiness, peace, and an overall sense of health. I don’t need to tell you all that because it’s all over the newspapers all the time. We, in the Christian faith, take it a step further. It isn’t just meditating. It is sitting with God. And that improves our spiritual health as well. We do gain strength. We do feel the lightness of God carrying our burdens with us through the yoke. We are lifted up with wings like eagles, we run and find that we are not weary, we will walk and find that we do not faint. Amen.