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14A Zechariah 9:9-10 / Romans 8:9,11-13 / Matthew 11:25-30

 

Let’s start out today with a

moment of prayer.

 

I want you to bring to mind someone

you know who has been struggling.

 

Maybe they’re struggling

with something physical. . . .

or medical. . .

or emotion. . . .

or financial.

 

It could be anything.

 

Think of that person. . .

and then present them to Jesus. . . .

surrender them to Jesus and

His providential care.

 

(silence)

 

Now turn inward.

 

Think of something that is causing

you great anxiety. . .

something that you’re fearful of. . .

something that you’re really struggling with.

 

Now take whatever this is

and surrender it to Jesus and

His providential care.

 

Give it to Jesus.

 

(Silence)

 

Amen—

Amen.

 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

how did God choose to save us?

 

God did not send down a plan. . . .

 

Not a blue print. . . .

 

Not a message.

 

No, to save us. . .

God sent us a person.

 

God sent Jesus.

 

The light shines in the darkness. . . .

 

Jesus shines in the darkness—

and the darkness has not . . .

and will not . . .

overcome it.                                                                                       (John 1:5)

 

There was a prisoner serving time in jail.

 

He was smart enough and

the guards were incompetent enough

that he was able to dig a tunnel and escape.

 

The tunnel he dug came out right

in the middle of a school playground

where little children were playing.

 

When the escaped prisoner

emerged from the tunnel

he couldn’t restrain himself. . . .

 

he jumps up and down hollering,

“I’m free, I’m free, I’m free.”

 

A little girl playing in the playground

looks up at him with the strangest look

and says, “That’s nothing, I’m four.”

 

Every time I hear today’s Gospel,

I want to cry out:

“I can be free. . . .

I can be free. . .

I can be free.”

 

“Come to me,

all you who labor and are burdened,

and I will give you rest.

 

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for I am meek and humble of heart;

and you will find rest for yourselves.

 

For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

 

What a comforting peace of scripture.

 

I can be free. . . .

You can be free. . . .

 

Free . . .

from what?

 

In these interesting times

we can be free

from the burden—

from the yoke—

 

of the excessive anxiety. . . .

 

of exhausting stress. . . .

 

of wicked worry. . . .

 

of paralyzing fear.

 

A past president of the

American Psychiatric Association

just commented that

“It’s just a huge powder keg of feelings [out there].”

 

And a psychologist for the

American Psychological Association

observed that

“For a lot of people,

we might be reaching the breaking point

in terms of the amount of stress and

uncertainty we are experiencing.”

 

But Jesus says:

My yoke is easy. . . .

My burden is light.

 

Jesus says:

Come to me. . . .

Come to me. . .

and I will give you rest.

 

You see Jesus is where our true freedom lies.

 

Why is Jesus’ yoke easy and

His burden light?

 

Well, first it’s because of His grace.

 

You see, much of our angst

comes from us trying to do all the heavy lifting. . . .

all the pulling. . . .

on our own.

 

That’s a recipe for disaster.

 

That is not the Christian way.

 

The Christian way is a way of humility—

realizing we can’t properly deal with

all of this just on our own.

 

We do our part, of course, living the Gospel —

And Jesus offers to put most of it on His shoulders.

 

“When I am weak,” St. Paul says,

“that’s when I’m strong.”

 

It’s about doing our part. . . .

surrendering to Jesus. . .

and experiencing grace . . . grace.

 

The 2nd reason Jesus’ yoke is easy

and his burden light. . . .

is because of God’s Providence.

 

A wise and experienced high school

basketball coach and his team

had a tough game ahead of them

 

The opponent was very talented—

but the timing was right—

the coach could just feel it—

for an upset.

 

But his players had no confidence.

 

So before the game the coach

gathered his team and said,

“I’m going to toss a coin.

 

If it’s heads we’re gonna win—

and if it’s tails we just may lose. . . .

so destiny will reveal itself

right here and now.”

 

The coach tossed the coin. . . .

 

Every eye in the dressing room

was glued to the coin as it

was tossed up in the air and

landed on the floor.

 

It was heads!!!

 

The team erupted with high fives and back slaps—

and they went out

and destroyed their opponent.

 

 

After the game,

the coach’s assistant

gave the coach a high five,

and exclaimed,

“no one can change destiny,

no one can change destiny.”

 

The coach pulled out the

quarter he tossed before the game—

and the assistant saw that

it was two-headed quarter.

 

Who controls destiny?

 

God controls destiny.

 

So we’re playing the game of life

with God flipping the coin—

heads we win—

with a two-headed quarter.

 

God controls ultimate destiny.

 

God’s plan will be realized. . . .

nothing can stop that.

 

And sometimes, what happens may not

look or feel so much like a victory. . . .

 

but we know by faith that

the all-knowing—

all powerful—

all-loving God

will bring good from it.

 

In the end everything—

Everything—

works to the good for those love God.

 

And one day—

when human destiny on earth

has been played itself out. . . .

 

God will reveal to us

that in the end—

the game of earthly was rigged.

 

Even when we make turnovers. . . .

 

and commit useless fouls. . . .

 

and take and miss crazy shots. . . .

 

if we stay on God’s team. . . .

 

and play the game the best we can. . . .

 

in the end. . . .

 

when the final horn sounds. . . .

victory is His. . . .

victory is our ours.

 

So Jesus’ yoke is easy and

his burden light

because of grace.

 

And because of God’s loving Providence. . . .

 

And closely connected

with God’s loving Providence—

is the fact that God’s major victory

over evil has already been won.

 

It was won by Jesus. . . .

It was won on the Cross.

 

So whatever is causing us anxiety and stress. . . .

whatever is causing us worry and fear. . . .

any evil. . . .

 

Jesus already took that into Himself—

and defeated it.

 

So at the final horn—

If we’re on God’s team—

we experience the Resurrection.

 

So when we experience excessive anxiety. . . .

 

exhausting stress—

 

wicked worry—

 

and paralyzing fear—

 

pause for a moment. . .

 

And bring to mind God’s Grace. . . .

And God’s Providence. . . .

And God’s Victory. . . .

 

And then we do the best we can. . . .

 

And surrender it to Jesus.

 

And we can be free to enjoy

the game of life just a little bit more  . . .

 

And repeat over and over and over. . .

 

My yoke is easy. . . .

My burden is light.

 

Come to me. . . .

Come to me. . .

and I will give you rest.

 

Holy Spirit 07/04-05/2020