God's Word: Live It!

I Will Give You Rest

Yesterday we encountered a hodge podge of scripture but finally settled on this: “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, 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.” So. You know that friend of yours who you called late at night with maybe a little too much wine in your head? The one who listened patiently while you spilled your guts? Remember the time you had to tell your mom or dad the worst thing you had to tell them and they reacted by chuckling, wrapping you in their arms and saying “It’s okay. It’s okay.”?

This is what Jesus is trying to say to us. No matter where you are in life, no matter what your problem is, no matter how deep the sin you’ve committed, I am here for you. I love you so much and I’m so glad you’ve come and shared this with me.  Let’s walk together through this darkness into my light. Let me take at least half of what you’re carrying. I’m not just strong enough to do this with you, I WANT to do this with you.

We all carry something. Something that won’t let us alone with ourselves, something that distracts us from God’s love for us. This is what Jesus wants to carry. That thing. Our thing. He’s inviting us to give it to him. And, like a little child who can sleep better when we get tucked in, we need to let ourselves get tucked in. For tomorrow we will wake up knowing that we are loved, forgiven, looked after and accompanied. “Come to me…”

“Get up...don’t be afraid."

Yesterday, we got to watch from afar as Jesus ascends a mountain with some of his pals only to find that they were in for the experience of a lifetime! Jesus’ garments turn dazzling white; Elijah and Moses show up. God’s voice is audible as He blesses Jesus and, not surprisingly, the disciples run for cover scared out of their wits. Most poignantly, in this frightening and confusing moment when the disciples are cowering in fear,  the Bible tells us “But Jesus came and touched them. Get up, he said. Don’t be afraid.”

In the midst of the mystery and majesty of The Transfiguration, Jesus leans over and touches his disciples to allay their fear. An intimate moment in an otherwise almost otherworldly experience. Jesus, knowing this moment means the beginning of his path to his own crucifixion, is nevertheless more concerned about this disciples.

His understanding of power is to use it to calm our fears, to touch us, to understand us. Our mountaintop Jesus is not full of himself, but fills himself with us. This is the Jesus who can hardly wait to have little children leap into his arms and sit on his lap. This is the Jesus who is overcome by grief siting on a hill over the city of Jerusalem crying over its eventual demise. This is the Jesus that can’t help himself and has to heal everyone despite their religion or national origin. This is the Jesus who sobs near the tomb of his old friend Lazarus. This is our Jesus.

This week, on Ash Wednesday, we can all experience this Jesus when we take the opportunity to humble ourselves in the face of such kindness and compassion. The smear of ashes, the body and blood, the kneeling before the altar are all ways of losing ourselves, of burying ourselves in the depths of the heart of a Savior who knows exactly what it’s like to love and laugh, touch and be touched, to be afraid and alone. His one shining mountaintop moment strengthened him for the long journey to Calvary and the even longer journey into the middle of our lives.