Monday, August 22, 2016

Heavy Burdens...Luke 13:10-17... A reflection during Taize service

There was a Christian rock group in the early 80’s featuring Marty McCall Called Fireworks One of my favorite songs by them was called Rusty Burdens which can be found on their live album “Fireworks”…“Rusty Burdens like dusty curtains hanging from top the windows of my heart
I been chasing this dingy lacing for so long its tearing me apart though I can’t see the shining sunset the blue horizon or the dew on the ground
Well I have hope that I can cope till Jesus comes to me and rips those curtains down.”

This so reminds me of the woman who walked into the synagogue in today’s reading.  She is weighed down physically.  They do not say by what and it doesn’t really matter. This story is about Jesus healing on the Sabbath.
The message says the woman is twisted and bent over with arthritis. Harper Collins study bible says that the woman had “a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and quite unable to stand up straight.”  In both versions Jesus says; “you are free…” (Luke 13.13)

How many people hear this message can see where I am headed already?  I mean let’s face it we are often troubled and burdened.  We often find life weighing us down. At times it can seem so strong and heavy it feels as if we are bent over with the weight of our anxieties, the weight of daily living, the weight of our job, the weight of bills and ailments, the weight of our own conscience and our failures, the weight of our procrastinated projects…If you can name it, we humans have a great talent into making it into a burden.

How do we free ourselves of our own guilt, of our own frustrations and of our own burdens? Bo Dunford a Baptist minister reminds us in psalm 55 it says to “cast your burden on the Lord.” (Psalm 55:22) “Let the Lord carry the burden for you!
* Since the burden is too heavy for you, give it to the Lord to carry.
* The word cast literally means “to fling or hurl.” * It requires and denotes action and effort.
* “Fling” that burden upon the Lord … “Cast” that burden upon the Lord!
* Or as they say in the south, “Chunk” that burden upon the Lord!”

That sounds easy. So you all get it right? Just whatever is bothering you, whatever is keeping you awake at night, whatever is weighing you down you just give it to God and your done nothing more to worry about.  Got it? Good!

It sounds so easy, I wish our minds and hearts actually worked that way.  But they don’t so the Bible reminds us over and over and over again.  Isiah 53:4 “surely has born our grief and sorrows” or 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”  Why is this repeated so many times?  Because we forget it so many times.  Because this is not a once and done thing; this is a practice.

Practice, Practice, practice, and when you think you got it, practice some more.  Our hearts and minds are fickle and strange. We may think we have forgotten something or believe we have gotten over something and suddenly, decades later it comes back to us with just as much negative energy as it had the first time.

This is Human nature.  This is only defeated by a practice of prayer and devotion seeking the light of God.  Yet the more we seek the light …well let me quote; “There is a connection between light and shadow; more light means more shadow.  The more a person approaches the light, the more he or she will experience his or her own imperfections.”[2]

Yes we give our burdens to God in prayer but in prayer we also expose ourselves and our hearts to God’s light and as was just described the more light the more shadow.  One cannot begin on this journey of seeking God in our daily lives and just leave it for Saint Theresa said: “If you do not strive for the virtues and practice them, you will always be dwarfs.  And, please God; it will only be a matter of not growing, for you already know whoever does not increase decreases. I hold that love where ever present, cannot possibly be content with remaining always the same.”[3]

Once we start this practice of looking at what is weighing us down, honestly looking at our burdens and holding them up to the light and love of God.  Yes, they will diminish and we will also begin to see more clearly our own spirit.  Prayer, a simple prayer over and over again: “take this worry form me God.” Or “God I give this burden to you.” cannot stop there.  We are called to continue our work on and within ourselves.

Once we feel we have moved past a pain, a burden, a weight on our shoulders, our prayer life cannot stop there. One must continue to seek out this sustaining, life giving experience that is God.  For we know what has bothered us in the past will come back to us again.  In some ways it almost seems as prayer is futile but it is all a part of growing in God.

If one is taking actual and real time to pay attention to God in their life and in prayer daily.  One will see patterns arising, one will see concerns arising, and one will seek a deeper way, a better way of living in the presence of an all loving God.  As one grows in prayer, I will also suggest, you cannot do it alone.  I recommend seeking out companions.  A spiritual companion or friend someone you can talk to about how your prayer life is progressing.  How your spiritual life is manifesting in your day to day living.

 A spiritual companion can point out your journey and help you to notice things you haven’t noticed before. They can help you see what is arising in your heart in your spiritual journey, they can help you notice where you have energy around projects or songs or prayers that lift you spiritually and help you translate that experience into. How shall I say it...? God language!

When in our daily life burdens; the daily grind and our own conscience seems to be weighing us down, when we feel like we just cannot stand up straight, when even in prayer we cannot always hear the voice of God saying you are free, free from these burdens, stand up.  Though we try to give the burdens to God and we do over and over again, sometimes we need another set of eyes and ears to help us see we have been relieved of our burden. 

Just as when we have carried a heavy load and we set it down we may need a hand up to straighten our backs.  Prayer in and through our lives can help us to stand up straight and as we continue the journey a companion can be nice. ( I would add if this makes you wonder and want to learn more about spiritual companioning also called spiritual direction I would give these two links Seek and find Guide sponsored by spiritual directors international and Stillpoint CA if you wish to learn more about spiritual direction and maybe take a class.)

 Now as I come to the end of this reflection let me simply remind you…no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey you are welcome here and that welcome comes form no man, no one person but from an all loving God who says you are free, cast your burdens upon me!  amen.

[1] Bo Dunford, Cast Thy Burden Upon the Lord, September, 2007, accessed August 17, 2016,
[2] Norvene Vest, ed., Tending the Holy: Spiritual Direction Across Traditions (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Pub., 2003), Digital eBook.
[3] Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila (Washington: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976–<1980>), Digital eBook.

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