Our Sister Phoebe, a Deacon

Theological musings inspired by the Spirit and totally Ellen…

>Yokes That Are Tailored to Fit


I’ve been off the radar for the last couple of weeks due to a nasty infection – oral surgery is not one of my favorite pastimes. During an uncomfortable time, Jesus’ words offered a lot of comfort. When I don’t have the strength, or am in pain, there’s someone to lean on.
This last Sunday’s gospel from Matthew 11:16-18, 28-30 is one of those passages in the Christian scripture that despite Jesus’ denunciation of Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernum, he invites us to come to him that our burdens may be lifted from our shoulders, and how beautiful the invitation is:

“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).

Such a deal, one might think! I can just let Jesus take care of everything.

It’s this deacon’s opinion that nah, don’t think so.

Jesus offers a shoulder to lean on, but I think he would expect that in dark times, in times of uncertainty, frustration, fear and pain, we turn to Him for guidance, to learn from His example. And while we’re being offered support, maybe that will give us time to put matters to prayer and have the strength to act on whatever we’re being called to do in Christ’s name. From Jesus of Nazareth we can model His new command-ment – love one another as Christ loves us.

I often quote this and mention it in conversation and sermons and in my writing, but it bears repeating, that and his paraphrasing of Deuteronomy 10:12-15 at Mark 12:29-30 and Matthew 22:34-40:

“The most important one,” {commandment} answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength. ‘ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than this.”

(Mark 12:29-30)
Loving your neighbor, whether a friend, a stranger, or a co-worker with which you barely share three words in one day, is difficult. Love comes more easily if we let our egos and human frailty, our tendencies to want to be first, and our search for perfection in beauty and mind, to be the center of the universe. And that’s where Jesus’ yoke comes into play. Yokes are those harnesses that go over the shoulders of an ox or horse to keep them attached to a wagon, cart, or plow. It’s used to help bear heavy loads. Made of hardwood, they’re pretty heavy – but not as heavy as the cross-beam Jesus carried on humanity�s behalf in his exhausted state to Golgotha. Once we get out of the blinding sun of our own wants and needs, and step into the shadow Jesus we are able to take up the yoke � one made with Jesus’ support and the strength of love and faith, of submitting our hearts, souls and minds to the ever-present, ever powerful, unconditional love of God and loving Christ as we love the Father.
Go in peace, dear ones!
With God’s love and mine, Ellen+

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