Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

June 9, 2017

Have you ever considered that perhaps we are going to have to get tired before we can learn to rest in the Lord? Simmer on that a bit. That statement is chocked full of metaphor!

            But the good news is that there is grace in weariness. What if…what if in our weariness we learned maybe one of life’s greatest lessons, how to rest in the Lord?

            Sometimes I feel that we fail to realize just how embattled we are against the demonic forces of this world. Frequently I reference the fact that none of us asked to be born.

            None of us came into this world with any understanding whatsoever of the forces that drove our birth. We really know nothing of our history other than what folks may or may not have taught us and this history may or may not be accurate.

            I smelled the coffee a few years ago when I came to the realization that many of my ancestors lied to me about a number of things. In my heart I feel they were passing on what they thought were truths and meant no harm.

            Nonetheless, prejudices, biases, skewed understandings and half truths served to send me down many paths that were off-target. As a result, I am sure that in my skewed vision I caused untold damage; and, may the Lord have mercy.

            This is what I mean by demonic forces. We’ve all been sold a bridge!

            And, if that metaphor is too dated for your understanding, it simply means that we have been fooled in many ways by forces that have manipulated us, mostly out of ignorance.

            Have you ever considered how many feuds have been started simply because someone believed in an untruth? How many wars could we have avoided with better understandings of issues?

            But, maybe it’s the natural order of things that drives us to weariness so that we will seek rest in the Lord.

            At the end of the day, all that the Lord requires of us is to accept his invitation to make it our life’s purpose to point to a way of life that is good news for the whole world.

            Nowadays, a matter that seems burdensome to the soul is the way that culture seems driven to live in unsustainable ways. And, let us consider the many things in culture that are unsustainable.

            What about debt? How many people are living so far above their means that their only way out of debt is to die?

            What about addiction? Just consider the many forms of addiction that culture brings our way.  Consider the number of families that are harassed by addiction right in our own church.

            On another matter, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more of our neighbors are working in jobs that cannot sustain even basic essentials than ever before. And, to dispel another lie, according to NPR, 70% of all persons receiving public assistance are white.

            Family brokenness in culture is not a sustainable way of living. The state of elderly care is not sustainable.

            But, the good news is that Jesus is standing there, calling us to bring our weariness to him and he will give us rest. (Matthew 11:28)

            When Jesus invites us into his rest, he is not dragging out a La-Z Boy for us to settle into and watch TV. He is inviting us into a rhythm of work and sustainability designed for us by the Creator.

            (And, this is what all that Jubilee language is about in the Bible.  God is showing us how to live sustainably.  I invite you to study carefully the 25th chapter of Leviticus.)

            Rest is coming home to a way of life that fits. It is a way of life where we learn to live into a different kind of narrative than the one that culture is telling and driving us to live.

            Jesus promises us a way of life that is sustainable; and, this will give rest to the weary soul. Let me be blunt, we cannot rest until without learning a new way of life with Christ and neighbor.

            For some of us, it means that we are going to have to smell some coffee. What does this mean?

            It could mean that we are going to have to face the uncomfortable truth that as well-meaning as some of our predecessors were, they passed along to us some lies.

Prejudices and biases have molded us and formed us. At times, these lies have caused violence in some rather unorthodox forms.

Martyrdom is one of these forms of violence. “Don’t worry about me! I’ll be fine! Just go on and live your life! I will just sit here and suffer all alone.”

Gossiping and spreading untruths is a form of violence. Family feuds are violence that gets passed along to successive generations.

My uncle Reuben was a drunk and his whole family is nothing but drunks and lazy good-for-nothings. (Yes this is facetiousness.)

To rest in Christ will mean that we must choose to draw a line in the sand and live into a way that no longer passes along the violence that we receive. Instead, we absorb it and return good for evil.

And, yes I know…you don’t have to remind me just how difficult this can be! And, none of us will pull it off all the time!

Even so, perfection is our goal. We shoot for the stars and we get the moon for free.

Finally, one positive thing that I have learned from my predecessors is to keep on singing, “I will trust in the Lord, ‘til I die!”

And, I heard this hymn as a child at Rock Springs Camp Meeting…and I heard the old folks stomp their feet on the sawdust floor, marking time to the rhythm and I felt the sway of the Holy Spirit and I felt strength and hope; and deep inside me a spark was planted that despite the demonic forces of this world, we do in fact find rest in Christ!

I will trust in the Lord.
I will trust in the Lord.
I will trust in the Lord until I die

I’m goin’ to treat everybody right.
I’m goin’ to treat everybody right.
I’m goin’ to treat everybody right until I die

I’m goin’ to stay on the battlefield.
I’m goin’ to stay on the battlefield.
I’m goin’ to stay on the battlefield until I die

I’m goin’ to stay on a bended knee.
I’m goin’ to stay on a bended knee.
I’m goin’ to stay on a bended knee until I die

I’m goin’ to watch, fight and pray.
I’m goin’ to watch, fight and pray.
I’m goin’ to watch, fight and pray until I die

(I Will Trust in the Lord ‘til I Die, Public Domain)

            Benita Washington does a pretty good job with this hymn if you want to take a listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EkmETLN2-A

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