Jesus says, “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 (NRSV)
Jesus makes no requirement in this invitation. Jesus doesn’t establish criteria for who is weary enough or how heavy our burden must be to warrant setting it down. All Jesus offers is an invitation. We choose whether to accept it. Jesus also doesn’t define for us what it means for his yoke to be easy and his burden light. Once again, we are the ones who need to make that distinction.
As we so often do, we compare our own weary burdens to those of others. Sometimes this increases our humility, but often it feeds our judgment. Likewise, we compare the easiness of Jesus’ yoke to the yoke we want, which is usually none because we like to do things on our own.
We also question why we would set down the burden we know for the one we don’t. We refuse Jesus’ invitation, and in doing so, increase our burden and grow more and more weary.
We refuse the invitation because we use ourselves and the world around us as the measure for burden and rest. We interpret gentleness and humility as signs of weakness. We are sure of what we think we know and the rightness of it.
Therefore, we judge Jesus’ words as lacking or demanding, a sign of weakness or failure. But the world is not the measuring stick we are called to use; God’s weakness is greater than any human power.
Jesus offers us rest not to gain power over us but because he has the power to take on our burdens. Jesus is not suggesting we just give up but to stop holding onto so tightly to the things steal our strength and take his hand.Jesus offers us rest not to gain power over us but because he has the power to take on our burdens. #Matthew11 #Humility #RestForOurSouls Click To Tweet
If we listen closely to Jesus, we find that it’s gentleness and humility, and not brute strength, that allow us to lay our heavy burdens down. Laying down our burdens doesn’t mean they magically disappear. But if we can set down our worldly notions that being yoked makes us beasts of burden, we find that Jesus offers the yoke to us so that we do not need to bear our burdens alone. In this way, Jesus shares our burdens so that we will not grow weary. And in trusting Jesus — and not picking our heavy burdens back up — we will find rest for our souls. And for this, we give thanks.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
God of the Exodus who heard the cries of your people as the burdens became more than they could bear, you still hear our cries. And like you did in ancient times, you come to our rescue. You do this despite our complaining that you didn’t come soon enough or haven’t made the way easy enough. You lead us in love, and we give you thanks.
God of the Incarnation who knew the burden of salvation was too much for us to bear, you still know our limits. Though you came to a world that did not recognize you or receive the redemption you offer, you still lived and dwelled with us that we would believe. As we trust our burdens more than we trust you, you continue to humbly call us to yourself. With gentleness born out of love, you sing over us the invitation to find rest for our souls, and we give you thanks.
God of Wisdom and Understanding who breathed grace on the people at Pentecost, you still breathe your grace on us. Jesus promised you as our Advocate and Companion, saying we would never be alone. Yoked together, you help us bear our burdens so that we would not become weary. Though we push against your truth-telling, you continue to speak the truth in love, and we give you thanks.
Holy Spirit, fill this place with your redemptive power. Make the bread and cup we offer become rest for our weary souls. In our communion, bring us again in to the presence of our Risen Lord.
We ask these things in the name of the one who taught us to pray, saying: Our Father…
At this table, Jesus invites us to be nourished. We have no burden at this Table, for we are not the host but honored guests. Certain of Christ’s promise, we come in humility and with a spirit of gentleness.
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus gathered with his disciples to share a meal. He took the bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take, eat. This is my body given for you. Likewise, he offered them the cup, saying: This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the saving death of the Risen Lord until he comes again.
Beloved, the Table has been prepared and all are welcome to come. We have no bill to pay at this Table, other than to receive the grace Christ freely offers and carry his humility and gentleness into the world.
Come, lay down your burdens, and be fed that you might find rest for your souls.
Prayer After Communion
Jesus of the light burden and easy yoke, you told us this Table brings rest for our souls. We trust you at your word because, time and again, your word has proven to be true. With grateful hearts sure of your love, let us take on your humility and gentleness as our own. And as we do so, may we invite others to do the same. Amen.
If you are looking for more liturgical resources, please consider checking out my books:
Prayers for the People: Scripturally Based Prayers for Worship Prayers for the People is a collection of prayers for worship. These prayers offer the worshipping community fresh perspectives for praying the words of Scripture, using current language and references. Cross-referenced to the Revised Common Lectionary, pastors seeking to lead their people in prayer have found a relevant and beautiful source for worship planning.
Come to the Table: Communion Liturgies of Invitation to Celebrate and Experience the Love of God is a collection of communion liturgies inviting worshippers to experience and respond to the Gospel. These meaningful liturgies enhance and reinforce the biblical message of the day. Worshippers are welcomed to the Table to experience the Word in preparation to go out into the world and live it. Come to the Table includes liturgies for the entire liturgical year providing pastors with a valuable resource in worship planning.