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Sharing the Yoke

July 5, 2020
A pair of Colorado Bluebirds at Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies

This picture may not be what you typically think about when you read Matthew 11:28-30 – ‘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.’

As I see it, the male and female bluebirds are a partnership. It takes two to build a nest, hatch the eggs, and feed the babies. Their partnership shares the labor so that it doesn’t fall on only one of them. Isn’t that what the church is called to be?

As the church continues to navigate its way through the new reality brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be overwhelming. The inability to worship together physically can be a challenge. The physical isolation (especially those who are living alone) can be overwhelming. The challenge of fellowship opportunities can be difficult.

Some would say that these challenges are obstacles that we must blast through. Others believe that they are challenges that we can work through or come up with creative alternatives to while keeping folks safe. There may be a problem with both of these trains of thought though. Who are we working with and who is by our side? If it is only us as an individual or even collective, then we are missing an opportunity to do something even greater.

My yoke is easy and my burden is light… that’s what Jesus said to the twelve and to the larger community to whom he was preaching. Did he say that the burdens will be eliminated? Did he say that if we follow him it will be easy street for us? No, he didn’t promise to remove the burdens from us. Instead he promised to share the load with us. The collective burdens of the community and the burdens of the individual can be shared. I also believe that he challenges us to share the yoke with each other.

When two well-trained oxen are yoked together to pull a wagon or plow a field, they pull equally. The burden is lighter because it is shared. Together the ox team makes a big difference in the life of the farmer who is using them to plow or to pull a wagon. There are occasions where one of the two oxen doesn’t want to cooperate with the other. In that case, the burden gets infinitely greater because of the discord.

Unfortunately I believe this is often the case with the church body and individual members of it. This is especially true in times of challenge and trial like we are facing today. What if instead of polarization and divisiveness, we came together as the diverse body of Christ to work together while recognizing our differences?

Dear reader, we are being invited to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and our egos. We are being called to work together as the body of Christ in this world. We are being called to love God and love neighbor… to do justice, love mercy/kindness, and walk humbly together with God.

Tonight we will celebrate Communion at worship at Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies. Even though we will be separated physically, we will bring our elements together and take the bread of life and the cup of salvation as one body. Jesus invites us to come to the table… Jesus then invites us to go out into the world to serve by loving God and loving neighbor. Not only will Jesus share the yoke and the burden, we will share it with each other as Christ followers.

  1. Katharine permalink

    It’s very interesting that this verse from Mathew has popped up recently. Perhaps it was the litany for thus past Sunday ? If not, I DON’T believe in coincidence !
    Peace, Katharine

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