Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Yolk is Easy...


My yolk is easy and my cholesterol is light. - Matthew 11:30?

I have a confession to make.

I know this is not the place to air these things out but I need to be free of this already.

I... I... I did... I did not grow up on a farm.


WOOOOOOOOOO! That feels much better. Up until I was 20 I had no idea what a yoke was. And to be honest I really thought it was YOLK not YOKE. So I thought Jesus' yolk being easy made no sense. Maybe it was one of those mystical things and like the Psalmist said, "I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me." Psalm 131:1

So I would just go back home to watch a Cartoon show called Recess and never really think about it:

Side note: I would go late to school every morning in high school to watch this. No joke EVERY morning. At the end of my senior year they wanted to make me go to summer school for lateness. HAHA! It didn't happen but it would have been worth it.

So why do I mention this? You will see in a couple of paragraphs.

Here are the readings for today.

This is part of Matthew's Gospel for today.

“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them."

Many of us have baggage. I think there are things that we have done, or things that have been done to us that we feel we cannot let go of. Maybe it is a parent who wasn't encouraging, or an abusive boyfriend or girlfriend, or a friend's betrayal, that wounds many of us deeply and still effects us to this day. I know for me sometimes I feel that moving away, or even a change of environment would help and it can; but the inescapable fact is that you still bring you along where ever you go. You still have to face whatever your issues are especially if you want to live a more free life.

This is the small one. I've got a couple more in the car.

So how did I get to this topic from those readings? Every time I hear "burden" I think of Matthew 11:28-30.

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.

This has always been an enigmatic phrase for me, especially since almost into my 20's, as I said, I had no idea what this meant. After I learned that this was a yoke:

A yoke is used to tie to oxen together to have them pull a cart. OOHHHHH!!! This made much more sense when I saw a picture of it:

In bringing this to prayer this is what came up. A yoke is used to connect to oxen to cart to have them pull something. Jesus invites us to share our journey with Him and His journey with us. He invites us to walk with Him. Micah 6:8 is echoed here,

"This is what God asks of you:
only this, to act justly,
to love tenderly
and to walk humbly with your God."

His yoke is light because being in relationship with Him we have the grace to keep moving. The grace is what makes our life livable. His burden is light because the cross is lighter than our sins. Even though the cross is heavy and we will die because of it; we will also rise from the dead because of it. The burden of sin is heavier and crushes us to death. Without Jesus we cannot lift that burden and have, in a sense, put a huge boulder on our coffin because we chose not to have a relationship with God for whatever reason. We become like Sisyphus.

Sisyphus was a notorious trickster in Greek mythology who was punished by the gods for his deceit. He was punished to push a rock up hill and whenever he would get close to the top, the rock would roll back down. He would have to keep pushing it uphill and lather, rinse and repeat.

The weight of sin.

Only Jesus is strong enough to get rid of our sinful burden so that we may walk with him. Even the language we use everyday points to how our sin, or bad and horrible acts we commit, effect us.

"I feel so weighed down..."

"I just have to get this off my chest..."

And when we confess and are forgiven we say,

"I feel like a weight has been lifted off me..."

"I feel like I can breathe again..."

"Wow, what a relief that was. I feel so relieved."

The word relieve come from Latin. The prefix "re" is an intensive prefix and "levare" means "to lift up, to lighten." "Levis" mean "not heavy" and that is where get our word levity from. Jesus lightens our heavy burden of sin! By taking our sins upon Him, He relieves us of ours so that we can walk with him.

Another meaning of a yoke, was a portable pillory for slaves. It was used to allow slaves to keep walking but they couldn't escape. Like how we still are alive with our sinful burdens but we never really live until they are broken.

"When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free.
Stand firm, therefore and do not submit to
the yoke of slavery."
- Galatians 5:1

We can be freed of our burdens by facing them, addressing them and asking Christ to enter into our past and present wound. Also the Lord tells us that He requires mercy not sacrifice, we need to build up one another not bring each other down. For then Christ will condemn us with the very same words that he used for the Pharisees.

For you preach but you do not practice.
You tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but you will not lift a finger to move them.

When a man gets ordained to the Diaconate (becomes a Deacon), he is handed the Book of the Gospels and is told this prayer:

Believe what you read.
Teach what you believe.
Practice what you teach.

Will I take up the cross with Christ? Will I help others with their burdens? Will I be a person who helps to heal or continues to harm those in "my way"?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words:

Now if I can just live this out. I am already stubborn as one.

Pray well!

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