Recently our congregation said goodbye to our interim pastor, Rev. Wende West. In one of her last sermons, she approached the Gospel (Matthew 11:16-19; 28-30) in her usual fashion, digging under the obvious to find useful Good News. Here Jesus encourages us to “take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” He also says that his yoke is easy. Hearing that idea again, I wondered, “What’s this ‘easy’ stuff? Being Christian sometimes feels like a heavy load!”
Pastor West explained that the Greek word translated as easy is better read as fitting. In Jesus’ day, yokes were heavy to carry, so a good farmer would fashion the oxen’s yokes so that they fit well. Thus the burden was “light” and the work could get done without overwhelming discomfort or injury.
As I get older, it would be easy to think of life as a heavy weight. To feel sorry about the heft of my purposed living. To give up on all this “vocation” stuff. But thinking about Pastor West’s sermon, I realized how well most of my burdens have fit me! All these years, I’ve carried Jesus’ yoke—his mission. I’ve also learned from his example: Wisdom, people-smarts, generosity and self-sacrifice. His joy as he traveled lightly through life. During each phase of my life, I’ve been blessed/equipped appropriately—fitted with skills and knowledge—so that I can do the work set before me!
This is really good news. Instead of looking only at the physical, mental and spiritual loads I’m carrying, I can also remember how my whole life has prepared me for these older adult moments of ministry! How well-suited I am to shoulder those burdens right now, to work towards God’s will.
Remembering that I remain well-fitted for God’s calling, I’m going to keep at it!
You may have benefitted from the ministry of an interim pastor, so may also know that this work can be hefty. Looking back, I can see how well-equipped Pastor West was for the burdens of her vocation among us. After many years of pastoral ministry, she came to us well-suited to her work here. She carried the interim yoke extremely well. Because of her time with us, our members, our pastor and our new associate pastor have been better-fitted for the burdens—and joys—we’ll experience together!
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