The Yoke’s on Us

On July 16, 2017, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

The Yoke’s on Us Matthew 11:16-19, 28-30 (NRSV) July 9, 2017 Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Let there be peace among us and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. John the baptizer was austere, monastic, rigid, a […]

The Yoke’s on Us
Matthew 11:16-19, 28-30 (NRSV)
July 9, 2017
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Let there be peace among us and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

John the baptizer was austere, monastic, rigid, a no frills kind of prophet.

Jesus, by contrast, sat at table and ate with those called sinners. He touched people who were considered untouchable. He was a teacher and healer, but he also was very social; he could often be seen at wedding banquets and dinner parties and picnics, eating with people beyond his social group, feeding people, drinking wine.

For his tent revival piety, John was called insane.
For his social, joyous, cross cultural piety, Jesus was called a libertine.

Jesus and John had different approaches to ministry…people judged both approaches. It wasn’t about which extreme was right. In fact, extremes aren’t what the gospel is about.

Should be like the Quiet Quakers or the happy, clappy Pentecostals?
Should we have the smells and bells of high church Anglicans or the simple service of rural Baptists?
Should we sprinkle water over babies’ heads like the Presbyterians or immerse babies to the waist like the Eastern Orthodox or skip baptism all together like the Salvation Army?
Which is better, chanting and incense with the Buddhists or bowing toward Mecca 5 times per day with the Muslims?
Should we avoid dancing, gambling, and wine with the Nazarenes or should we enjoy bingo and beer with the Catholics in the Knights of Columbus halls?

These apparent differences are matters of taste, not dictates by God. In fact, since God is within each of us, we with our various tastes can actually form friendships and community and celebrate the indwelling Presence in all these ways and more.

The way of Jesus isn’t really an either/or proposal…it’s more of a both/and experience.

Come to me…and find rest.
COME…Rest
WORK…Relax
MAKE AN EFFORT…Take a breath
Hurry up…and wait.
GIVE…Receive

One of the things the way of Jesus saves us from is the trap of false dichotomies. There is always more to learn, more to consider, more to experience, more to share, more to be. What we have known may be good…and, there is more. Not either/or…both/and.

Heavy handed dogma and doctrine are burdensome, but Jesus offers us liberation from such needless burdens.

As different as they were, what both John and Jesus did was build communities, and the shared, loving human experience is what matters. In togetherness, people discovered their sacred value, encouraged one another, shared their resources, prayed together, played together, worked together…in togetherness, burdens were lifted and difficulties were easier to bear.

Instead of doctrinaire religiosity, Jesus offered an easy yoke.

A yoke kept two oxen from wandering apart. The yoke guided them in same direction and helped them share the load, making the load easier. They beasts weren’t fighting against each other or wandering away from each other, they stayed together because they were yoked together, sharing the burden making it easier and getting more done.

That’s what is meant by: My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

As we learn to accept our potential and to appreciate one another with all our differences, we become more together, we do more, and we enjoy the journey more.

In Eastern Christianity it is said that in Christ the divine became human so that humans could become divine.

Jesus was so fully human he expressed divinity. As followers of Christ, we are learning to support one another in learning to become so fully human that we express divinity.

In the Christ community, sharing the yoke of our values…affirming the sacred value of all people, working together for peace and justice for all people, caring for the poor, the sick, the oppressed, the refugee…our work load is shared and we find joy in it, and more is accomplished. Together, we encourage one another and lift each other up so that we can share the work of being Christ in the world.

Together, we help one another live so fully into our humanity that we express divinity. In the Christ community, the divine becomes human so that humans can realize their divine potential.

We aren’t here to be beat up, terrified, or have shame heaped on top of us. We’re not here to condemn other religions or the non-religious. We aren’t here to make sure that no one is having too much fun. We aren’t here selling afterlife fire insurance. We are here to work together, play together, pray together, and remind one another of how innately good we are and always have been.

We are here to recognize the divine spark within all of us, and to encourage one another as we work together to bring more hope, peace, and joy to the world. The work is sometimes hard, but as we share it, it is also joyful, and the burden is made lighter as remember we are the return of Christ and the work we do in Jesus’ name is needed as much now as ever.

So now, hear the words of Jesus again, and decide what the response of your heart and your life will be:
Come unto me…my yoke is easy and my burden is light. And this is the good news.

(C) Durrell Watkins 2017

I am thankful that I do not have to win God’s favor.
I am already made in God’s image.
I am forever loved by God.
What is true for me is true for all people.
And so it is.

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