RUMC 08 July 2018
Pastor SeokCheol Shin
Life’s Journey with Jesus’ Yoke
Today is the day of new beginnings for Rockville United Methodist Church and for my life’s journey as well. For the past 5 years I was given the privilege to serve two lovely congregations in Vermont. Now God has brought me here to serve Him through serving you.
Before I give you my message, I want to say how grateful I am to your previous Pastor Paul O’Neil for all he has done for me to have a smooth transition. He has had a wonderful ministry here with you, and I know he will be greatly missed. We have had a number of conversations since April and he has shared with me what a great congregation you are. I know you will continue to pray for him and Janet as they make their new beginning in New Hampshire.
I am thankful that I have Rev. Stan Culy in our congregation. I met him at the Annual Conference a month ago. Like our Good Shepherd, Rev. Culy first reached out to me and gave me a warm hug; I almost called him “Dad.”
I also want to express my appreciation to Sandy Gallup and the transition team as well as all who have helped me to feel so welcomed. Through our emails, facebook chats, phone calls, and prayers you encouraged me to cross over into my “Promised Land!” Yes, I am willing to be in ministry with each of you as we seek to serve God our Lord.
Finding rest in Jesus
Yet, I still can’t believe I am here in Connecticut. Until two weeks ago, I had served very rural communities, and today I am here to serve very diverse communities. What a radical change! Life is often compared to a journey. We never know where life takes us from one moment to the next.
Let us suppose that you are planning to travel to Korea, and this is your first visit there. How would you like to prepare for it? I believe that before you get on that airplane, you will try to get many kinds of information about Korea through internet, traveling books, or friends who know about Korea. Why? It is simply because you want to have a safe and fun time there.
Likewise, it’s better to entrust our life’s journey to someone who knows where we are going and what we are doing. That is our Lord Jesus Christ. Some people may argue, “Why do I have to depend on him? It is my own journey not Jesus’?” For this human question, I have two clear answers to share with you.
First, unlike our physical travel, our life’s journey is unpredictable. As you know, things don’t always go the way we plan, and we never know what happens next. We sometimes struggle with bumps and jostles on our roads. It is such a painful truth that bad things can happen anytime to anyone without any clear reasons, that, we are sometimes afraid of our journey.
Second, we human beings are weak. Let me ask you how strong you are. Can you try to pick up this pulpit? You can try. But how many of us think you can pick up the piano or a car? None can do it! There are many things we can move, but there are many more things that we can’t move or control by our own power and wisdom.
My brothers and sisters, some of you may have some pretty heavy burdens in your lives, and yet, you think that you have to carry them alone. Perhaps, you may have a physical ailment that makes your life hard; perhaps, someone in your family has serious illness and you are worried about it; or you may have been out of work and your family is having financial difficulties. Some others might face the prospect of living life alone after the death of a spouse. I don’t know yet what kind of burdens and worries have been depressing your heart, but it is true that we all labor in our everyday lives, and we are weary physically, mentally and emotionally.
Don’t we want to find a cure for our anxiety and weariness on our journey? Does anyone exist to help us to carry our burdens? Jesus says this morning, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest” (v. 28).
If I say to someone, “come to me, my friend, I will take care of all your problems,” then people would laugh at me because they know that I don’t possess any power to resolve all of people’s problems. Then what about our Lord Jesus Christ? Can we count on him to make a good promise for us?
Yes, indeed! We can count on him because he is our Lord God who created all things in the world. Plus, he knows how hard human life is. As the Son of God, he also went through a life’s journey while taking up sufferings and pains during his public ministry in our world. So when Jesus, who knows everything about our life’s journey, makes such a promise, it is not a pep talk but a sure guarantee.
Jesus’ yoke on us
Yet, interestingly, Jesus also says in the following sentence, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (v. 29). Well, yoke is a farm machine to reign oxen and draw them to plow the field. So, it is actually for working. He just promises to offer rest and then suddenly speaks of taking up another burden in the next moment. What we need is a vacation, not more labors. Isn’t it a contradiction?
I think that Jesus uses this parable to explain how he can help us to carry our loads. Jesus’ yoke means his lordship upon us; he is our Lord and we are his servants, and as our Lord, he can lead us and control things that we face in our journey.
Don’t get me wrong, dear friends. Jesus Christ doesn’t only send me here to take it easy with everything. If I am only here to take a vacation, sooner or later I might look for another location. He drew me to work here along with you, and as his servant, working for God is my joy and my rest!
If all we need is physical rest, we can always take a nap. If we need only emotional rest, we can always go on a vacation. But where can we find our spiritual rest? Where can we find true peace and joy? Jesus promises this morning, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest… Take my yoke upon you… and you will find rest for your souls.”
Ready for our new journey
My dear brothers and sisters, I want you to know that I came to you not by my own will but guided by Jesus’ yoke in my heart. I am thankful for my new appointment here along with you, my new family in Christ. So, reflecting on his message for this morning, I would like to say to you, “Come to me, my sisters and brothers, and I will give you God’s love.” And please, welcome me and show me God’s love. As we come together in the name of Jesus Christ, we may have rest and peace for our life’s journey together.
Thanks to God’s grace and love, we are now ready to start our new journey and new ministry together. May God bless all of you here today as we welcome each other in God’s love, submit our lives to the Lord, and work for Christ’ saving ministry to the world. Amen.