Saturday, July 5, 2014

4 Pentecost Yr A Proper 9 July 6 2014

Audio 7.6.2014

Freedom. The holiday we just celebrated is about freedom and independence. We celebrate the wonder of this country, the bounty and riches we experience. We celebrate that amazing event of bravery and courage that gave rise to this country, free from the rule of the British crown, free to govern itself by consent of the people. We celebrate family, and friends, and country, and we celebrate in safety. Our Declaration of Independence insures that we can have our opinions on just about everything, knowing that we can do so in safety. 

And Freedom is what Jesus' life, death, and resurrection affects for us, God's beloved. This freedom is not about independence, but about interdependence. Jesus wants to walk this path of freedom with us, Jesus wants to take our burdens from us, to free us from the oppression of feeling unworthy, and to love us completely and absolutely, so that we are free to love others in the same way. And yet, like Paul in Romans, we just seem to get lost in the muck and mess of our wants and desires, our will and our wretchedness. Our tendency to sin, to miss the mark, is sometimes so strong, it's almost as if we choose to stay in bondage, rather than to live in the freedom Jesus offers.

Jesus says, 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 kind, good, useful, which are all better translations than “easy”. The yoke is a symbol of burden, oppression, and hardship. But we can’t forget who is pulling the burden with us, with his head through the other oxbow.

Jesus wants to give us freedom, Jesus wants to take our burdens from us onto himself, and yet, like Paul, we tend to hang on to them for dear life. Why is it so hard for us to trust Jesus? Why is it so hard for us to lay our burdens down? Why do we need to be cajoled and convinced that Jesus' way is the way of freedom?

Our tendency to sin and our inability to hit the mark, sometimes is so strong that the chains that bind us get comfortable. We know it so well - it is so familiar - and as long as we hold tight to it, to our burden, our inadequacy, our addiction, our pain, we don't have to deal with the next burden we don't know. Indeed, maybe even it is fear of the next burden that binds us. We'll even hold on so tightly to the exclusion of the grace, joy, and love that Jesus promises, because we think we don't know what freedom looks like. Or maybe we have our eyes and ears closed to what freedom in Jesus looks like. 

We see this human pattern in our stories, our sacred stories as well as our cultural stories. In our sacred stories. In the story of the rich young man who asks Jesus what he must do to have the new life that Jesus talks about, the full life, the eternal life. And Jesus' answer to the rich young man, you have more than you need, give it away, it is your burden, it is keeping you from the relationships, the interdependence that this life is all about. And the rich young man choose to hold onto his wealth, his pain, his loneliness, for fear of the new thing, the new life, that could be his. Which one of us would answer just like the rich young man, no way Jesus, I'm not giving up this comfortable life for a life I don't know, even if it is meaningless and shallow, at least it's familiar.

And in the story of the Israelites we see it. One of my favorite stories is of the Israelites who finally left the bondage of Egypt for the promise of a new land, and at just about every step of the way they were so very human, so very much like me. They whined to Moses and to his brother Aaron, we don't like it here, we are so hungry and we don't like the food you give us. Wouldn't it be better if we had stayed prisoners in Egypt. This freedom in the wilderness is mighty scary. 

And it is all around us. We stay stuck in the things we do that seem to bring us comfort and safety for fear of laying that down to be free for the new thing that Jesus has for us. What is it for you? You can't reach for anything new if your hands are full of yesterday's junk.

Jesus knows us so well, Jesus is one of us, Jesus was one of us. Jesus says, let me walk this road with you, let me help you carry that burden, let me love you. And the way that happens is for you to know that this life isn't all about you. It is about us, together. It is about interdependence. Not independence. Jesus says, I know there is pain and suffering, I've experienced that, let's do that together, you don't have to do it alone. Jesus says, I know the seduction to having it all, having wealth and power is real, remember when I was tempted and seduced, but real living comes from communion and community, sharing our joys and our burdens. This life is about my body broken for you. This life is about a community of faith gathered around bread and wine and prayers. This life is about being sent into the world to love and serve others. 

The freedom Jesus gives us is the freedom to love one another just like we are loved. The freedom Jesus gives us is the freedom to be broken, and healed. The freedom Jesus gives us is the freedom not to be perfect, because we are perfectly loved. The freedom Jesus gives us is the freedom to love the outcast and the marginalized, just because they are worthy of God's love too. The freedom Jesus gives us is the freedom to tell the truth about who we are, peculiar people, odd people, even crazy people, people who are loved. Amen.Audio 7.6.2014

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