“Come to me, all you 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (the words of Jesus, the Christ. Matthew 11:28-30)
Truth be told, it has been a long winter. Still adjusting to the new church/community, kids activities, eldest child graduating from college and moving out west...lots going on. I had honestly about reached the end of my rope. I really wanted to go to a conference in Memphis, but the Bishop accepted our invitation to come to Trinity UMC the same week - I saw no way to pull it off.
Thanks to the encouragement of our staff parish relations committee and our truly amazing Administrative Assistant, Mary, I not only got to leave town for the conference - I got to take a couple of vacation days at the start of the week! I am now meandering around my old stomping grounds in West Tennessee with Memphis being my ultimate destination.
Saturday as I packed my bags I considered all that I would need for the week - warm weather clothes, cold weather clothes, jeans as well as dress clothes. Shoes for the conference, for walking and for hiking...I know I overpacked!
I also decided to change purses - this is a huge deal because it happens infrequently. I also downsized wallets...another huge deal. Interestingly, my 'new' purse seems too light. Like nothing is in there. I do a double take every time I pick it up and put it over my shoulder because obviously something I need has to be missing...but it isn't.
This got me to thinking about the extra baggage that I have been carrying around...then I read my friend, Rev. Matthew Johnson's, blog post today - www.unfilteredwesleyan.com - and that really got me to thinking! Why are we so determined to hang on to our stuff? Why do we carry so much stuff around with us in the first place?
If Grace, God's grace, is what its all about (and I believe this to be true) then why do we continue to heap coals on top of ourselves. I think that Jesus was, is and always will be about love and helping us to lighten the load by teaching us to love our Triune God (first and foremost) and love one another. Nowhere does this mean we are to beat one another up, or even ourselves up, over stuff. No wonder Christians are considered hypocritical and judgmental - geesh!
When I went to seminary I asked everyone I could "what is Grace? Prof. _____ what is your definition of grace." Never got the same answer - from anyone. Maybe thats the problem...we don't know, experience, or even identify Grace when its right in front of us...we either cover our eyes out of shame, or we are too afraid to see that God is in our midst each and every moment of the day...we get too bogged down in stuff, in minutia, in our own needs that we miss out on the blessings upon blessings that God is trying to bestow on us - on you and on I. This is especially true for folks in the church, I fear. We are so goal oriented, we are striving for the prize, even when its the right thing to do, that we miss out on the blessings, burn out and get frustrated and wring our hands, and we miss God's grace.
But its here, there and everywhere, Grace, hope, joy, love...and it's waiting for us to drop all of that stuff that is weighing us down and scoop it up and then share it with someone else. You see, that's the other cool thing about Grace - not only is it free, and broadcast all about, its also best shared with others.
Time to turn to the One who is gentle and humble in heart and rest our souls, my friends.