July 5, 2020

Sunday Online Worship July 5, 2020

Passage: Matthew 11:16-19, Matthew 11:25-30

July 5 Sermon

Gospel Lesson Matthew 11:16-19, Matthew 11:25-30

As we begin, let me share with you this prayer for Independence Day, which we celebrated in our country yesterday, and from the sounds of it we are still celebrating. I can hear a pop every now and then outside.

Let us pray, “Almighty God, you rule all the peoples of the Earth, inspire the minds of all women and men, to whom you have committed the responsibility of government and leadership in the nations of the world.  Give to them the vision of truth and justice, that by their council all nations and peoples may work together.  Give to the people of our country zeal for justice, strength and forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will.  Forgive our shortcomings as a nation.  Purify our hearts to see and love the truth.  We pray these things through Jesus Christ, amen.

The gospel lesson this morning comes from Matthew 11:16-19 and then there’s a little break and then we continue with verses 25-30.  Jesus is speaking “But to what will I compare this generation?  It is like children sitting in the marketplaces calling to one another ‘we played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say ‘He has a demon’; The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the son choses to reveal to him.  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.”

Let us pray, “Almighty God, may the meditations of our hearts and the words of my lips be acceptable unto you, our rock and redeemer.  In Christ’s name we pray, amen.

I would just like to say that we had quite a 4th here yesterday.  The fireworks were spectacular last night.  It was quite the time, and rightfully so.  For we should celebrate Independence Day.  We should be thankful for all that we have in this country in which we reside.

I want to talk to you a little bit about freedom today.  What is freedom?  Some say and believe that it’s the ability to do, act, or say anything that one wants.  There’s always the caveat that as long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else’s rights, it’s okay.  And you may ask, well, what are rights?

Somewhere there’s a document that says there are inalienable rights, God-given inalienable rights, and that is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  But I want to share with you a thought that was offered by Peter Marshall years and years ago.  Now, the Reverend Dr. Peter Marshall was the chaplain of the U.S. senate through World War II, and afterwards, he once said this in talking about freedom.  He said, “May we think of freedom not as the right to do what we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”

I think those are fine words.  I think, as a Christian, that this is how we should frame our understanding of freedom.  Freedom is not self-serving; not in the eyes of Jesus.  Freedom is about serving.  Freedom is serving others.  When Jesus invites us to take on his yoke, albeit being light, we join with Jesus and Jesus joins with us that we might fulfill the will of God.  The will of God is to love one another, to lift one another up, to share, to the best of our ability, all that we have with one another.

And Jesus said at one point that it’s not just what we share with our families and friends, because even the Gentiles do that, but to allow the love of God to grow within us, to expand and allow us to break free the chains of slavery, sin and death.  It is to be free of those chains.  To be free of the sense of privilege or being above another, so that we might truly, truly love one another.

You know, oftentimes we hear that freedom comes with cost and there is a cost to freedom, and in many instances, we frame that in the sense of our military and them giving their lives that we may retain our life here in this country.  And yes, there is a heavy price paid for freedom in that sense.

But there’s that freedom that we find through Jesus Christ that also has a cost to that and that burden is not light.  That burden is not easy, but when we are yoked with Jesus, all things are possible through Christ who gives us strength, as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians.  All things are possible when we are under the same yoke with Jesus Christ pulling and moving in God’s will.

God’s will, folks, is very simply, with all the complexities around it, about loving our neighbor.  About being one with Jesus and one with one another and respecting others—even those who have different beliefs.  Our country guarantees that.  Praise be to God for that.  That we can all live in harmony with one another.

When we allow Jesus to set the yoke and to be yoked with him, we might truly know freedom and the reward that we will receive from God Almighty when our journey is done.  Folks, this is a wonderful experiment, a wonderful experiment that we are part of, and through Christ, when we allow ourselves to be joined in our faith, there’s nothing that we cannot accomplish.

I know many of us are weary.  There’s a sense of missing your church family, I do too.  But folks, with God’s help, with Christ helping us with this burden, we must bear for this season.  We can certainly get through it, because with Christ at our side, there’s nothing that we cannot accomplish, nothing that we cannot do.  It’s going to be okay.

When you feel that Christ is not with you, or you feel alone, at that time I encourage you to turn to prayer.  To pray and to listen and to just dwell in the presence of Jesus Christ and you will know that joy once again and you’ll be encouraged and strengthened as we go through this season.  There’s no need to be over wearied or overburdened because we have Christ that helps share that burden with us each and every moment of the day.

Let us pray, “Gracious God, we give you thanks for your son, Jesus, whom you sent to be with us, to help us carry this burden of this time, to give us rest from our weariness, to give us strength for tomorrow, to give us courage to keep moving forward, to give us perseverance that as we protect one another in this time of pandemic, that we know that your yoke is light and that with you we can move through this, we can move mountains, we can do anything and through your spirit you bind us together, Lord, whether not in person but spiritually, Lord, we are together and for this and all these things, we give you thanks as we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.