Sermon 7 5 20
Well, I am charmed and grateful that any of you are tuned in the day after July 4! Thank you all for spending at least some of your July 4 weekend with your church. God bless you! And have a joyous Independence Day weekend!
And let us bless each other by showing care and love for each other. Wear masks! Maintain at least a six foot distance from each other, except for immediate family. Someday we’ll all be able to hug again. Just not now or in the near future. We are in an epidemic and as recent upsurges have shown, it must be taken seriously and that requires patience.
I must acknowledge that there are some people who have decided for WHATEVER(?!) reason to ignore the need for social distancing, to ignore the need to care for each other — who have decided to turn this into some sort of political issue. This nonsense reminds me of my great-grandfather John Findley. Years ago, As more and more people left their horses and buggies behind and bought cars, the need arose for traffic laws. Well, he wasn’t having it! He decided that no one could tell him what side of the road to drive on! He decided that he would drive on whatever side of the road he wanted to! Whenever he wanted to! Freedom! It was all about his freedom. His individual freedom. I think it was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said, “Your freedom ends right where my nose begins.”
Anyway, eventually Grandpa Findley had to give up his keys — to his town’s everlasting relief. Sometimes, to live on the same planet, we just need to agree to accommodate each other. It is God’s desire that we get along with each other and even – revolutionary idea here – learn to love each other. Let’s ask ourselves what God would have us do.
Meanwhile, let us rejoice in our opportunity this weekend to thank God for our corner of the world, our nation. And in that spirit I offer the following prayer for our country. This prayer is found on page 820 in our Book of Common Prayer. Let us pray.
“Almighty God, who has brought us to this good land for our heritage: we humbly beseech you that we may always prove ourselves to be a people who are mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and among all the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, let our trust in you not fail; all this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Amen.
And now let me quote from our Gospel for today. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.”
We have surely been living through a time of weariness and burden. And to hear Jesus’ promise of rest for our souls is so welcome and exactly what we need to hear these days. Amen!
The love story of Rebekah and Isaac in our Old Testament reading is also welcome these days. And I just want to take a moment to thank God for Abraham’s servant. This nameless man who was sent by Abraham to return to Abraham’s homeland, probably traveling between 500-600 miles to find Isaac a wife for his son from among Abraham’s own people. Abraham clearly trusted this man, and he was right to do so — mainly because his servant trusted in God. And so, the trust moved right along because ultimately Rebekah trusted in God too. She brought along her maids to join with the servant for the return trip and they all traveled back to Isaac and Abraham in Canaan. And as far as we know Isaac and Rebekah were happy together. Thank God for the faithful servant!
And thank God for our beautiful reading from the Song of Solomon. We often hear it at weddings.
And then we come to our Gospel where Jesus invites the weary to come to him for comfort.
But before that Jesus spoke of the fickleness of those he often found himself preaching to. He knew that no matter what he said, somebody was going to complain about him. He knew it. He knew that in many ways those who received his Word were like children, innocent, yet immature children. And he rejoiced in that! So-called sophisticated listeners can get all wrapped up in their own intellect. Sometimes our brains can get in our way. Sometimes it’s best to take God’s Word just as you hear it. This is why the simple words of “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so” are so memorable and ring true no matter how intellectually “sophisticated” we may think we are.
Perhaps this 4th of July weekend calls for quiet reflection as we stay in and around our homes. Perhaps this holiday at this time doesn’t lend itself so much to gazing at bursts of beautiful light and color in the sky as it does to gazing at each other with gratitude for those we love, with gratitude for our church, the people of our church. Maybe we can’t see each other, but we know that we are together, loved by God and loving God together.
Let us rest assured this Independence Day that we can always find rest for our souls with Jesus no matter what is going on in the world.
“Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”