Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….
Welcoming Creator, we come before you seeking grace today.
It’s been quite a week for some, filled with busyness and exciting activities;
for others it has been a long and lonely week.
Still others have experienced ongoing troubles and frustrations, sorrows and sadness.
Throughout all these conditions and at all times, you are with each one of us,
giving us strength,
calming our spirits;
healing our wounds,
celebrating the delights and triumphs.
This morning we name in our hearts and by our voices loved ones who struggle with issues of health, loneliness, sorrow;
we name in our hearts and by our voices those who have found great joy.
Be with each person, giving strength and courage for all the times ahead.
Help each one of us to remember that we can always come to you with our burdens and you will take them from us.
let us begin today’s worship
CALL TO WORSHIP
L: We gather this day to worship!
P: But we bring with us heavy burdens which weigh us down.
L: We gather this day to praise God!
P: But our hearts ache inside us and we feel we can go no further.
L: Come all who are burdened and who feel weighed down. Come to Jesus.
P: Lord Jesus, take our burdens and heal our spirits. AMEN.
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling #43
(All candles lit.)
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30(NRSV)
16 “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
17 ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The word of God for the people of God!
Sermon Take a Real Rest
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you will learn to live freely and lightly” – Mathew 11:28-30 the Message. Today we could easily turn that phrase to are you tired? Worn out? Burned out, on this whole coviid thing? What a luscious invitation “come to me…get away with me and you’ll recover your life.”
Recover your life! What a warm and welcoming invitation. This is an invitation many need to hear and yet few, very few, take the time to heed. Even on this day, this day of rest we continue to worship at the altar of Busyness.
Even in these times when many of us are home alone. Keeping ourselves at safe distances from others, we still do not heed the message to slow down and breathe. I fear if our bodies didn’t tell us to just stop now and then, many of us would run our selves right into the ground until we are facing the wrong side of the grass.
Now this call, I wish it were a commandment, but it is a call, an invitation, an open door to a space in the spirit where she says; come sit, breathe, be in my presence. This call isn’t just for the weary worker or the tired traveler. This is an invitation to all and especially those who have been so burdened by society, by isolation, by just surviving the day to day until they are nearly broken.
This invitation is to each one of us, to those who are not here, to those who may have yet to hear the invitation. This is for those worn down by a strict religious creed. This call is for those who have been excluded from their home communities where they were beaten down and told repeatedly that they are going to hell unless they repent and change. This invitation is for those who are marginalized in their worship spaces to a point that they are exhausted by attending what should be a prayerful service.
This is a call to everyone, a call of practice. This a way of being of Christ, that one must develop. This is the practice of an honest and sincere welcome. This is the unconditional welcome. This is a practice of community. This is a practice that takes work. It takes work because not everyone wants to be welcoming at the same time. Right? There are days when we can do the welcoming into sacred still space and there are days when we really need to be in that still quiet space for ourselves. This invitation is for both. You cannot invite someone into sacred space until you are in that sacred space yourself, internally.
Last week we spoke of our open and affirming covenant. But again I remind you of one simple fact, covenant is a spiritual practice. Rev. David Pyle a UUA Minister and army reserve chaplain shares this story;
“One of the most important lessons I learned in seminary, I learned from a three-year-old boy. Now, it is true that this is a pretty amazing three-year-old, as you might expect of a boy raised in Seminary. His mother was studying for the Unitarian Universalist Ministry, and so the environment he was being raised in both ate and breathed our Unitarian Universalist Faith. Yet, it is also that little Jeffrey is a pretty amazing little boy. I personally expect to be preaching his ordination service in about thirty years or so…
My wife Sandy and I were visiting with Jeffrey and his parents for dinner one evening. As we sat down at the table, Jeffrey looked around at us expectantly… Now, I expected that they would say some form of Grace, but I was to be surprised. Jeffrey was our leader. He had all of us hold hands while his father, Jeff, lit the chalice at the center of the table. He then had us recite their family covenant… Love is the doctrine of this family, and service is its law. This is our great covenant, to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.
Covenant as a personal spiritual practice… taught to me by a three-year-old Unitarian Universalist. Amazing…”
We can take a lesson from little Jeffery and change the words; for us Love is the Doctrine of this congregation, and service is its law. This is our great covenant, to dwell together in peace, to seek truth in love, and to help one another!
But to be able to live out this covenant we must slow down…Chuck Girard has a beautiful song titled just that, SLOW DOWN…I have shared it before and I wish to share it again now it will take 4 minutes but what if we took 4 minutes three times a day just to be still and refresh I do have permission to use the song in ministry.
Being Church, Being the Federated Church of Marlborough, we are called to hard work sometimes. That is why we need to take rest, spiritual rest in the Lord.
Kaji Dousa writes Rise up! spirituality for resistance
There is a moment in the middle of the night. I gasp; I audibly take in so much air that anyone nearby will hear it.
I know God most closely in my sleep. For me, the overnight hours are the longest stretches of prayer I know.
God and I talk in my dreams.
Not exclusively—other voices work their way in as well.
But God’s most transformative healing work happens on my way to or in my sleep.
Which is why an interruption can feel so…disruptive to my soul.
What disrupts my God relationship? The apostle Paul has a few ideas:
All of These work their way into my gasp points of my God-time.
As well they should.
The spirit of the lord is upon me to proclaim liberty to the captive, and this Jesus-following posture places those of us who do advocacy work at personal risk for any of Paul’s list. And then some.
Here’s the truth: Nothing can separate us from God. But things can interrupt our experience of God. When we are breathing in Goodness- even in a snore- any disruption can make us Gasp for air.
Maybe that gasp is good.
Maybe it is helpful to know that, in these moments of interruption, we are in peril if we cannot breathe God in first and foremost.
Your call to follow Jesus may put you at risk.
It may make you naked, vulnerable.
It may make you the target of trolls with nothing better to do than interrupt your relationship with the Lord.
Amidst all of the Peril:
Get your rest.
Love your God.
Know ye that the Lord is good and the Lord is God.
And She will always show up, always on time.
Even in the still of the night.
I give thanks for your ability to break through it all, O God.
Even in my Slumber.
Even in my unrest.
Even in her rest she gasps breathing in Gods’ goodness. This is what is meant by and what we need to do, to lay our burdens down, slow down, rest, reflect, and be present to God with all our busyness, with all our humility and with all our pride. Everything we have, we need to take to the lord, lay it down and rest.
If that means pausing in our day for a minute to say I am here Lord be present with me as I breathe. If that means you are called to meditation for 20 minutes each day. If it means that at the end of the week you need to come here and lay all your stuff at the door of the room you are in and come inside for an hour to be present to God then welcome and rest.
Now for some of us this quiet rest is hard. It is hard for us to be still in the lord we need to move, our rest needs to be unrestful, if you will. So, for some we need to take a walking meditation.
Carefully placing one foot in front of the other and paying attention to the feel of the path under our feet. Breathing deep and taking in our surroundings being keenly aware of our surroundings. Being aware of the God breathe that is always around us, taking in the rhythm of nature as we walk.
For others that may even be too much, too peace filled.
For some rest in God may express itself in taking in the heart beat and pace of a city. Watching the spirit of God moving quickly about seeing glimpses of the face of Christ in each passing person.
For others still, there is spiritual reading and reflection. Lectio Divina a sacred praying of the scripture. For this you simply find a quiet comfortable place. Choose a text. Read it slowly caressing each word or phrase in your heart listening for a phrase or word that stands out to you. Take that word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories, and ideas. Just pay attention to where God is leading you in this time of prayer and contemplation.
Some may be more visual in their need to rest with God, for those there is the practice of visio Divina. This practice invites one to encounter the divine through images. A prayerful consideration of and interaction with a photograph in a magazine, an icon, a piece of art, or any other visual representation that allows the viewer to experience the divine in a unique and powerful way.
For others, their time with God may come out through their own artful practices be that in taking time to paint, knit, quilt, bead, take pictures or make music. Just as we are each one of us the face of Christ in this world, so we are each unique in our spiritual rest. But to have a spiritual practice, a spiritual place that is just for you and God, is essential in empowering us as individuals and as a community to do the work God is calling us to.
So Slow down, be still and rest in the spirit of the lord, be still and know God. Maybe, dance move and find God and make a connection in your unique way. But always be attentive in your time with God. Listen for Gods voice in your Life then, take up the Yoke, Christs yoke, and know whatever it is we are called to do, we do it not alone, our burdens our not ours alone but shared in and through our relationship with Christ.
A call to prayer
The early disciples devoted themselves to prayer,
The teachings of the apostles, and sharing the bread of life.
They were a people of prayer,
Who shared their joys and concerns?
Their passions and sorrows,
With one another and with the Lord.
For burdens shared and burdens lessened,
And joys shared and joys enriched,
Come, let us follow their example and lift our prayers to God
Please write your joys and concerns in the comment section and I will lift them up after this hymn
Come, O Fount of Every Blessing #459
Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us
Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
Come to Christ and offer your gifts, not as a burden, but as an opportunity
To give rest and renewal to those who yearn to know God’s Love.
Receive these gifts we now bring, God of gifts,
And bless them for your world.
Through our giving, renew others,
That they too may know the comfort and rest of living in the arms of your compassion
And your love. Amen.
Celebration of Holy Communion(Please if you have not already prepared elements for communion do so. Remember that even an English muffin can become a sacrament, even a cup of water or tea can become a remembrance of God’s redeeming love)
For Holy Communion this morning,
I invite you to lend Christ your table.
We recall that once a long time ago Jesus gathered with his friends in a room. Men, woman, children, free and slave, Jewish, roman, tax collector and priest all gathered as friends to celebrate a feast.
The Communion words sent to the church at Corinth were these:
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed
took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it and said,
“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Sharing of the Elements
Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the bread we share.
Leader:Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the cup we share.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Leader: Let us pray in thanksgiving for this meal of grace,
rejoicing that, by the very method of our worship,
we have embodied the truth that Christ’s love
is not limited by buildings made with human hands,
nor contained in human ceremonies,
but blows as free as the Spirit in all places.
Unison: Spirit of Christ, you have blessed our tables and our lives.
May the eating of this Bread give us courage to speak faith and act love, not only in church sanctuaries, but in your precious world,
and may the drinking of this Cup renew our hope
even in the midst of pandemic.
Wrap your hopeful presence around all
whose bodies, spirits and hearts need healing,
and let us become your compassion and safe refuge. Amen
The office is open for regular hours
We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry
I am available for one on one virtual visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again one day, but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat, check in
How Beautiful, Our Spacious Skies #594 vs 1, 3, 4,
Lord, we have listened to your word for us this day. We are grateful for the love of Jesus who takes our burdens and lightens our spirits. Be with us today as we leave this place. May we continue to place our trust in you, for it is in the name of Jesus that we pray. AMEN.
Weary travelers, go now in peace with the love of Christ in your hearts. You are released from your burdens! Go with joy to serve God. AMEN.
 Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002).
 Chuck Girard, Chuck Girard (Originally published as North Hollywood, Calif.Dunamis Music, Waco, Tex: seven Thousand records, 1975).
 Vince Amlin, Rise Up! (n.p.: United Church of Christ, 2017), 41.