Summary: Jesus welcomes us in all our fatigue and tiredness into the life of God. This sermon was for a retirement community in Toronto
Invitation to the Weary – Retirement Sermon for Suites by the Lake – May 30, 2009
Children love to play and run around. They are invigorating to watch and they add zest and vigour to life. They love to wake up, run and play.
They generally find the other end of the day much more of a drag. It can be pretty tough to put a young child to bed. They don’t want to ‘turn off’. They don’t want to stop. They’ll even keep going and going, like the Energizer Bunny, after they are long-since pooped.
Adults, on the other hand, generally, love to sleep and find waking up a lot harder. Sleep, rather than being a ‘necessary evil’, as it is for kids, is a welcome relief to long days of living.
Our Scripture passage today comes about a third of the way through the Book of Matthew.
For the first third of the book, more of less, Jesus has mostly been teaching His disciples, the twelve men who were closest to Him, plus the many female disciples who also accompanied Him as they traveled from town to town.
So after talking to His disciples, Jesus goes to talk to people in the small towns of Galilee.
Now, Jesus is an incredible observer of people. His eyes are always wide open to people, to their situations, to their struggles and to their burdens. We never see Jesus distracted or disinterested. Even at times when He is on His way to important meetings and such, He allows for unscheduled interactions with people.
And He watches. He sees. He knows. He empathizes. And one of the things He observed among the people…the farmers, the labourers, the common workers, the moms with their kids, the grandparents, the seniors…one of the things He saw was that there was a common weariness among folks.
And so Jesus speaks these words into the hearts and minds of the people:
Matthew 11: 28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Now, we might say that Jesus was just an observer of the obvious. But Jesus isn’t just stating a common problem. He is identifying with people, making it clear that He understands how they feel.
He understands the weight they carry. He understands how hard it is, how hard life is; how difficult and disappointing it can be; how expectations seem like they have to constantly be adjusted downward in order to adapt to ever-declining realities in life.
Jesus understands all of this and more. And so He actually starts with an invitation. It’s not an invitation to think differently, to adopt a new philosophy, to somehow imagine that life is not as hard as it really is.
It’s actually much more simple than that. The invitation Jesus offers is to COME to Him.
It’s most accurately an invitation to come and receive an embrace. Come to a safe place, come to safe person?
Are you struggling with life? Are you hurting inside? Is there something you need that you’ve learned just doesn’t exist anywhere else?
C.S. Lewis, a great Christian writer and thinker, used to say that there is a God-shaped vacuum in every human being. There’s a built-in thing in us that, try as we might, we can’t fill it with other stuff. It’s a space only made for God.
And Jesus here is giving us the gentlest invitation imaginable to come to Him so that He can fill that God-shaped vacuum. Again, this is not an invitation to religion. It’s not an advertisement for some philosophy or denomination. It’s a great huge welcome into the freedom of a life of God.
We are wearied and burdened by different things at different points in life. I know that the pace of work and family life for me can sometimes spin out of control and can leave me quite fatigued physically. That’s one kind of weariness. But there’s another kind of tiredness and burden we can carry.
When life slows down on the outside, things can quicken on the inside. We can be burdened by regrets, deep regrets about things done long ago that have no chance or choice of changing.
Those regrets can cycle over and over again in our minds and, you know, they can leave us tired and frustrated, they can rob us of enjoying life right now.
To us who are reliving these regrets Jesus speaks a word: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.
Sometimes we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We worry about this and we worry about that, we fret about things we have little or no control over.