5th July Pew Sheet - Wyre Forest West Group of Parishes


5th July Pew Sheet


Dear Friends,

 

Oh I do love today’s gospel reading – its one of my favourite passages which is strange because in general I prefer St John’s gospel. The reason I like it is because it consists of two parts. In the first passage Jesus is just so human – he’s having a rant! He can’t do right for doing wrong – nothing satisfies the people. John the Baptist fasted for a lot of the time and the people criticised him - “He must have a demon in him”. Jesus came eating and drinking with others and what did they say “Look, a glutton and a drunkard.” In the verses that have been missed out Jesus goes on “Woe to you, Chorazin, Woe to you Bethsaida….And you Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades.” Most of the time during his ministry Jesus seems very calm, whatever mayhem is going on around him. But here, well in today’s speak we might think that he sounds a little “stressed out”. I find this very comforting – that Jesus knows what it’s like. He’s been there, done it, got the tee-shirt.


But then the second passage goes on and contains a verse that many of us need to take to heart. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus is describing many of us, particularly in our current position. He knows what many are experiencing. Tired. Stressed out. Battling fatigue. Our nerves on edge.


We’re like an old Peanuts comic strip. It shows Linus holding on to his familiar blanket. The caption reads, “Only one yard of flannel stands between me and a nervous breakdown.” Some of us know what Linus is talking about.


A young mother was describing a terrible day she had experienced. The washing machine broke down, the telephone kept ringing, her head ached, and the postman brought a bill she had no money to pay. Almost to the breaking point, she lifted her one-year-old into his highchair, leaned her head against the tray, and began to cry.


Without a word, her son took his dummy out of his mouth and stuck it in hers. It goes with the pressures of modern life. Some of us are stressed out and we are tired. Some of this is due to work. Studies show we’re working harder than ever. As a result, many of us are not getting enough sleep. This is true for young people as well as adults.


When I used to work full time, I got into the habit of taking a twenty-minute power nap at lunchtime. Well I recently heard about a club that has been formed at a high school in America. The club is called the Power Nap Club! A group of students go to a room at the end of the school day where they turn off the lights, put their heads on their desks, plug in a tape of quiet classical music, and take what they call a “power nap” for about a half hour. just like I used to do in the middle of my working day. They have a club tee shirt that is decorated with the school mascot wearing a little nightcap on his head. Inscribed on the tee shirt is a new version of an old Latin motto, ‘Veni, vidi, dormivi: Not I came, I saw, I conquered but, I came, I saw, I slept!’


The club was formed because these kids are going to school all day, participating in sports, volunteering in the community, going to church or mosque or synagogue, and in many cases holding down part time jobs. They’re exhausted. And they’ve learned that just a little nap makes all the difference in the world – and don’t I know it.


Jesus says to us and to them, “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.” That’s encouraging, isn’t it? But what does it mean?


There is a wonderful legend concerning the quiet years of Jesus, the years prior to his visible ministry. The legend claims that Jesus the carpenter was one of the master yoke-makers in the Nazareth area. People came from miles around for a yoke, hand carved and crafted by Jesus son of Joseph.


When customers arrived with their team of oxen Jesus would spend considerable time measuring the team, their height, the width, the space between them, and the size of their shoulders. Within a week, the team would be brought back, and he would carefully place the newly made yoke over the shoulders, watching for rough places, smoothing out the edges and fitting them perfectly to this particular team of oxen.


That’s the yoke Jesus invites us to take. Do not be misled by the word “easy,” for its root word in Greek speaks directly of the tailor-made yokes: they were “well-fitting.” The yoke Jesus invites us to take, the yoke that brings rest to weary souls, is one that is made exactly to our lives and hearts. The yoke he invites us to wear fits us well, does not rub us nor cause us to develop sore spirits and is designed for two. His yokes were always designed for two. And our yoke-partner is none other than Christ himself.


We don’t have to bear the weight of our world by ourselves. That is the obvious teaching, and it is a beautiful teaching. But there are many ways in which being yoked to Christ gives us rest.


Note, first of all, that there are other forms of fatigue more draining than physical fatigue. Mental fatigue and emotional fatigue can wear on us far more than physical fatigue. There is the fatigue that comes from stress. Fatigue that comes from worry. Fatigue that comes not only from worrying about the future, but also worrying about the past. Fatigue that comes from trying to be something we are not.


Physical fatigue, unless overdone, helps us sleep peacefully at night. Emotional and mental fatigue actually keeps us awake - that’s when we get really, really tired.


But how do we stop this vicious cycle. Remember these words “Come unto me all that are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” When we are yoked to Jesus, we no longer have to prove to the world that we belong. Many of us have a vast insecurity in our hearts about our own self-worth. This insecurity makes every task we handle more difficult. Often, we expend an enormous amount of energy trying to be something we are not.


Some of you may have seen the Johnny Cash movie, Walk the Line. When Cash was 12-years-old his older brother died in a tragic accident. Cash’s father took his grief out on Johnny. “Death took the wrong boy” his father told him time and time again. His brother was the good boy. He should have lived. Johnny was the bad boy. If anyone should have died, it should have been Johnny. No wonder Johnny Cash spent so many years acting out his rage and his feelings of being “no good.” Can you imagine a father doing that to his son? No wonder that, for many years of his life, Johnny Cash engaged in self-destructive behaviour. It’s a wonder he survived at all. But isn’t it great that, by the end of his life, Johnny Cash discovered a Heavenly Father who accepted him just as he was.


Cash’s situation may have been extreme, but there are many people who feel for one reason or another that they do not belong, that their life has little value. That they are failures who can never measure up. Many of these turn to anti-social behaviour. But there are many others who, while they do not rebel, put themselves under an intolerable burden of expectations that they cannot possibly live up to. These expectations produce both stress and fatigue. To be able to relax and be ourselves is one of the greatest benefits our faith gives us.


Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher who suffered bouts of extreme melancholy, undoubtedly due to a difficult upbringing. One day he wrote in his Journal, “And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.”


What a liberating thought: “And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.” Not what others expect me to be. Not some unrealistic image I have of myself. No, with God’s help I shall become who I really am. No more stressful pretences. No more misguided strivings. I will relax and be me. When we feel accepted by Christ, then for the first time in our lives we become free. When we are yoked to Jesus, we no longer have to prove to the world that we belong. It’s amazing how much inner turmoil can be eliminated from our lives when we know we are loved, accepted, forgiven.


So friends, this day and every day, don’t worry about your future, don’t worry about your past, don’t wonder whether you measure up. Let it go. Leave it at the foot of the cross and there know that there is one who loves you, one who died for you. What more can I say! Amen.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.


Go in the name of Jesus, to follow the way of Jesus, to love with the love of Jesus, and to be sustained by the peace of Jesus.; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen.


With All my Blessings Rev Sallie

 

Bible Readings for today – 4th Sunday after Trinity


Genesis 24.34-38,42-49,58-67, Psalm 45.10-17, Romans 7.15-25a, Matthew 11.16-19,25-30


Collect for this week


Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Requests for Prayer


Please continue to pray for all those who are ill, especially Annie Round, Paul Mills, Freddie Kemp, Sylvia Jenkins, Susan Godwin, Edna Mills, Jill Cockerton, Mary McGrath, Lucy Fischer, Pearl Green, Margaret Wright, Polly, Maureen Boswell and Sylvia Perkins. We also pray for all those suffering with, and affected by, Coronavirus (COVID-19).


Pray for the family and friends of all those who have recently died and for all those who mourn.
We celebrate and give thanks for the baptism of Teddy, today at Rock Church.


Intercessions


As the church of God, let us be still, and pray together.


Blessed are you, Lord our God, for you are a very present help in trouble. You are more ready to hear than we to pray, and willing to give us more than we desire or deserve. We come to you for rest, for renewal, for the strength to do what you would have us do.
Lord we come to you: renew us and give us peace.


We give thanks for the Church throughout the world. We remember today all who are weary in their service and all who are in danger of losing faith. We pray for priests and pastors who are working in difficult areas and with little support. We ask your blessing upon all who are seeking to share the burdens of those with great responsibilities. We pray for all who are carers and who give support to others.
Lord we come to you: renew us and give us peace.


As we rejoice in the gifts of life, we remember the world-weary, the overwrought and the anxious. We pray for all who are laden with troubles or guilt. We ask your blessing upon all who are overworked or oppressed and those who are fearful for the future. We remember those who have lost the joy of living and all who cannot easily relax.
Lord we come to you: renew us and give us peace.


We give thanks for our friends and loved ones, for those who share our joys and sorrows, particularly at this time when we have been unable to meet with them. We remember all who have been a support and comfort to us. We pray for families where there is tension and stress and we remember all who feel lonely and without help.
Lord we come to you: renew us and give us peace.


We give thanks, O Lord, for continual support and we pray for all who feel uncared for or unwanted. We remember all who are at the point of breaking and all those who have broken down. We ask your blessing upon all who are ill and finding life difficult. We pray for all who seek to be a help and a support.
Lord we come to you: renew us and give us peace.


We ask your blessing upon all who have found their rest in you. We remember our friends and loved ones departed. May they find in you rest, renewal and the joy of resurrection.


Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.