“Trust in Jesus”

Rev. Ben Beasley
APC Sermon
July 3, 2011
Mathew 11: 16-19; 25-30
The last few lines of our passage this morning
Contain some of the most cherished words in all of Scripture
The blessed assurance that Jesus will give us rest:
“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”

This is an unusual Sunday
A day that has us thinking of tomorrow
And our Fourth of July celebrations, cookouts, and fireworks 
And because of this
As I contemplated our scripture passage this morning
Another poem’s last few lines came to mind
Lines which have become part of our American history
Lines of a poem carved on the pedestal
Of one of America’s most endearing and iconic images  
The Statue of Liberty
The complete poem is by Jewish American poet Emma Lazarus
And is called New Colossus
And it reads:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

A little known fact is that the Statue of liberty
At one time was also a lighthouse
The statue was designed with glass inserts in the sides of the torch
The torch held high by Lady Liberty
Served not only as a symbol of freedom
But as a light to help ships safely navigate into the harbor

The image of a lighthouse is an endearing one for Christians
The Bible makes it very clear
That we as Christians and as a church body
Are to be a light unto the world.
Jesus said:
You are the light of the world
A city built on a hill cannot be hidden
No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works
And give glory to your Father in heaven

This idea of being a light, a beacon, has often been portrayed symbolically
With the image of a lighthouse
That is how it works with us
Our light is essentially the light of Jesus in us 
Meant to radiate out to others
So what does this mean in how we are to relate to others and the world in which we live?
Maybe an answer can be found in an old story of a lighthouse keeper 
Who worked on a rocky stretch of northeastern coast line
The keeper would received his new supply of oil once a month to keep the light burning
Not being far from shore, he had frequent guests
One night a woman from the village begged some oil to keep her family warm
Another time a father asked for some to use in his lamp
Another needed some to lubricate a wheel
Since all the requests seemed legitimate and helped someone in need, the lighthouse keeper tried to help them all 
Toward the end of the month he noticed that the supply of oil was very low
Soon, it was gone, and the beacon light went out
That night several ships narrowly escaped being wrecked and miraculously no lives were lost 
When the authorities investigated
The man was very sorry for having let the light go out.
They asked him:
“You were given the oil for one purpose – to keep that light burning.”
How could you take such a risk?
His only answer was that he trusted God

We, as Christians and as a church body, are called to be a light to others
To place our faith, hope and trust in God alone
Which means we have to change our values to those of Christ
Which means we are called to trust in Jesus as Savior
To live the call of God’s Word,
And serve the people and the world God loves
Just as the lighthouse keeper served those in need 

As Christians that is how we celebrate our freedom
And that is how we proclaim our liberty
In service to others
When we enter into the worship of the triune God
We give witness to the truth that we are citizens of a commonwealth
Wider than even the nation of our birth
By serving others
We are, as members of the body of Christ across time and space
Christians without borders
In the liturgy of our worship we enact a story of salvation that subsumes all other stories.
In baptism we are granted a new identity that transcends all the rest 
As Dietrich Bonheoffer insisted:
“We belong to Christ alone, and relate to the world only through Christ.”
We put our faith, hope and trust in God alone

In our passage this morning
I believe Jesus is calling us to that higher standard
Noting just how difficult that is for us because we have become overly judgmental and enmeshed in the world around us
That is what Jesus was complaining about of his own generation 
By pointing to the children
I believe he is pointing out
How we grow up and become hardened by the world
We do not easily accept another as children so easily do 
We become more guarded and less trusting
Hording our oil so to speak
Which makes it harder for us to serve one another as the lighthouse keeper did 
Placing his trust fully with God
Jesus offers an example of this
In talking about his own generation
And how they judged John the Baptist and himself by worldly standards
And I believe it would be about the same today  

Couldn’t you just hear the talk now
If there was this crazy John the Baptist guy
Standing in the Ogeechee river, eating horseflies and honey, covered in goat’s hair, screaming about the end of the world
Saying that a savior was coming who will baptize with fire
We might think he has a demon too!
At the very least we might be telling others not to go down to the river…
That man’s crazy!
Or 
What would be the talk if Jesus was around today?
I could hear us wondering about his “divinity” 
Gossiping with each other about how he filled up the jars of wine at a wedding so the party could go on into the night
And oh my!
The rumor mill that would be churning just hearing of those sinners he had dinner with! 
We judge, and judge, and judge
Just listen to people sometimes!
Just listen to our news!
It get’s tiring
It’s like an expression I heard recently
“I’m just so sick and tired of being sick and tired!”
It get’s so tiring that maybe we need to take seriously those last few lines of our passage this morning
Calling us to lay down our worries and burdens of earthly troubles and concerns
And give them over to Jesus that he might give us rest
What could this mean?
In essence it means:
As William Goettler writes in Feasting on the Word that
“Jesus is present in times of need, in times of plenty, in times of desperation in times of certainty, and I would add in times of uncertainty

To say that we worry too much just might be an understatement
We live in a world where we are bombarded daily with things we need to worry about 
Global worries, economic worries, worries about crime, environmental worries, medical worries, worries over friendships and relationships
It never seems to end and all these worries just won’t go away
And eventually I believe all this worry spills over into our spiritual lives as well
We start worrying if we are doing enough to please God?
Are we making enough of a difference to the least of these in our society?
Are we missing God’s signals for our life?
Are we living our lives to the fullest for God?

As we read Jesus words to the crowds this morning they could sound like an infomercial to help with all the worry in our life:

“Are you tired? Worried? Full of unanswered questions? 
Come to me, and I will give you rest
Here you will find rest for your souls!”

We hear those words and sigh:
“If that were only true”
“If only it were that easy”
And the amazing thing is that it can be!

In a book of daily devotions called Disciplines
Susie Knedlik writes about her time in Seminary
She would commute to school 
And each week she drove past a sign
Painted on an overpass that read:
“Trust Jesus”
That’s all it said.
She says as she drove her weekly route
That phrase became a mantra
That helped her make it through some tough years
“Trust Jesus, Trust Jesus, Trust Jesus…”
Susie goes on to say
We don’t have to know all the answers
We don’t even have to do battle with national politics, our bodies, our sins, or anything else by ourselves
What we can do is say yes, to Jesus invitation to release and rest
It is a learning process
With eternal benefits

The words on that overpass that Susie saw each week 
Trust Jesus
I believe, can be a mantra we can all take with us this morning
A mantra we can recite with each breath 
That can help free us from worry and fear
Then no matter what we might face we can learn to relax with an unburdened spirit and find rest for our souls
Trusting Jesus is about learning how to speak civilly about our differences
Trusting Jesus is about attempting to reconcile with those who differ from us
Trusting Jesus is about taking up the cause of justice for those who are treated unjustly
Trusting Jesus is about serving others even in the face of uncertainty
All these are things we should strive for as Christians
Because in doing so
What we are ultimately saying is that we trust Jesus in all things!
And it is from just such a perspective
That we can proclaim with conviction 
Words which sound vaguely familiar to those of Jesus
Like an echo reverberating between each of those lines 
Carved on that most iconic of American Images: 
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens
And I will give you rest
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
For I am gentle and humble in heart
And you will find rest for your souls
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light
May we trust in Jesus in all things
In the Name of the Father and the Son And the Holy Spirit 
Amen

Categories Sermons | Tags: | Posted on July 3, 2011

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