July 7, 2002

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

"How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, 'We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.' John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff. Opinion polls don't count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating."


Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: "Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You've concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that's the way you like to work."

Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly "The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I'm not keeping it to myself; I'm ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.

"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 you 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'll learn to live freely and lightly"

<The Message>


1. The comparison with John leads into the left-out section where Jesus called down Doom on places he had been which had not responded positively to his presence. You might almost see Jesus' spirit at work knowing that "Doom" is not the last or best word.

So - abruptly - Jesus breaks into prayer. Oh how I wish our current Doom-sayers or Terrorist-baiters would learn to pray in response to their pronouncements.

The prayer changes things, abruptly.

2. Before the prayer, "Doom!" After the prayer, "Tenderness" for the listeners. Jesus is willing to say what he has said, one more time and one more time, again.

Is it lack of prayer that keeps us from the tenderness of working with people instead of pronouncing upon them and leaving them to their Doom?

3. So, when burned out (like Jesus when he resorted to Doom-talk?) Come away with Jesus into a time of prayer about ordinary things and the way GOD is already present in the ordinary. Here is the "unforced rhythms of grace." And don't you really want to live with that freedom and lightness.

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