Reading, Reflection and Prayers for 4th Sunday after Trinity
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
I detect more than a hint of frustration in these opening words of Jesus. John the Baptist is languishing in prison, thanks to his outspoken remarks about Herod Antipas’ marital arrangements. He seems to be having some self-doubt about his own and Jesus’ mission, as he sends out word to ask whether Jesus really is the Messiah. Jesus’ response is to say that his actions speak for themselves: the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news brought to them. And then he goes on to testify to John’s role in preparing the way for the coming of God’s kingdom.
Both John and Jesus have come proclaiming God’s gracious rule. Yet, both he and John have met with hostility and rejection. “You’re like children who are never satisfied, who can’t agree on what game to play” protests Jesus. John’s countercultural call to repentance is deemed too harsh. And Jesus is condemned because he associates freely with tax collectors and sinners. It is a generation who refuse to see the truth when it is put in front of them, who want to pick and choose which parts of the gospel message they can go along with rather than embrace the fullness of God’s inclusive kingdom and all that it might mean.
I feel the same criticism could be levelled at this generation as we have a rather bumpy ride out of lock-down. With well over five hundred thousand deaths world wide from Covid, and the pandemic revealing the burden of injustice which so many carry, should we not be mourning rather than taking to the streets and partying, as we have seen in some places?
We were told to stay home. Most did, but not all thought the rules applied to them. Now we have been told we can go out, shop and enjoy ourselves, even go to church. Some are taking full advantage of that. Others remain cautious. Rules and guidelines change daily; they vary according to where you live. It generates a restlessness and lack of direction in society which has the potential to become destructive and there is a huge burden of anxiety, loss and unresolved grief.
To a people burdened by the oppressive Roman regime, to a people burdened by the strict requirements of the Jewish law, to a people burdened by injustice, to all who are wearied and burdened by anxiety, loss, and grief Jesus says ‘Come to me and I will give you rest.’ Such sweet relief!
Then Jesus says, ‘Take my yoke upon you.’ That sounds like another heavy burden. Yokes were made for oxen to bind them together to work as a team. Younger, inexperienced oxen would often be yoked with an older one who provided guidance and restraint. Jesus, as a carpenter, would have been skilled in making them so they were a perfect fit for the team for which they were designed. If the double yoke was too far apart the pulling would be inefficient; too close together and the animals would jostle together and hurt one another. Any rough edges had to be smoothed away so that the skin was not irritated or damaged.
When Jesus the carpenter says, ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,’ it’s not a promise to take all our problems away but it is a promise that, yoked to him, he will guide us and share the load and we will find rest for our souls.
As we negotiate this tricky path out of lockdown, as we feel the weight of injustice in the world which has been laid bare by the virus and by the voices of Black Lives Matter, it is only by responding to that invitation to come to Christ, to be yoked with him, that together with him and learning from him, we will discover God’s pathway to the fulfilment of his kingdom of mercy, truth and peace.
For prayer or meditation
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
The burden of love
O God, you took upon you the yoke of humanity and the burden of love, and did not find it easy:
let us learn from you to share the weight of all this aching world, that our souls may be light, and our hearts rested,
as together we are carried by you in Jesus Christ. Amen (Janet Morley: All desires known.)
Reopening of St James & All Saints Churches for Services
Services times for the month of July are as follows:
Sunday 12th July – Said Parish Communion at St James 10.00am
Sunday 19th July - Said Matins at All Saints 11.30am
Sunday 26th July –Said Parish Communion at St James 10.00am
We will continue holding the Sunday evening Zoom service – see login details below
Reopening of churches for private prayer
St James will be open this Sunday (5th July) from 11.00 am till 1.00pm
All Saints will be open on Sunday 5th July from 10.00am till 12 noon
There will be no midweek opening
Sunday evening Zoom service at 6.30pm
The link and log in details have been distributed to those on the Parishioners mailing list but is also available from the Parish Office (see Contacts page). We shall need volunteers for the psalm reading, the bible reading (liaise with Anne), and intercessions so that an order of service can be circulated. Please contact Marian & Mike (540108).
Year six leavers: Village School
You will remember that for the last few years at the leavers service in church we have presented a copy of the Diary of a Disciple book to each leaver.
Sadly, this year we will not be able to hold a service in church but there will be a picnic for the year six leavers and their parents on the 17th of July on the school field at which presentations will be made. We would like to make our usual presentation to the children and to that end I have purchased 32 copies of the diary of a disciple due to arrive on 2 July. I have managed to purchase the books for £7 per copy. If you would like to sponsor a copy that would be most gratefully received.
You can either drop cash into the rectory Post box or do a bank transfer (Sort code: 090155. Account number: 33103088. Colwall Parochial Church.) and let Richard know. In previous years we have managed to recoup the entire cost and I thank you in anticipation of your help again this year.