Dear Friends,We’ve all seen the credit card commercial that ends with the question “what’s in your wallet?”
Jesus has a different question for us. “What’s on your back? A burden? Or a yoke?”
Those are the two options.
Anyone who has read the classic allegory Pilgrim’s Progress knows that the story focuses on a traveler named Christian, trying to find his way to the Celestial City, and all the time encumbered by the weight of a sack he carries on his shoulders. The sack is his burden. In it is the accumulated weight of his sin and his transgressions. Throughout his journey, he is looking for relief from the weight of the sack.
In the story, the narrator describes the dream he’s having.
“Up this way, therefore, did burdened CHRISTIAN run; but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.
He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.
Then was CHRISTIAN glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart, "He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death."
What Bunyan leaves out of his allegory is what Jesus places on the shoulders of His followers once the burden has been removed. It’s a yoke.
Old school farmers know all about yokes. A yoke is the piece of wood that is set across the shoulders of a team of horses or oxen. Tied to the yoke are the reins the farmer then uses to steer the animals as they plow the fields.
There are still parts of the world where farmers attach yokes to animals and use them to prepare the soil for planting.
The yoke is placed on the animal’s shoulders so that the animal’s power can be put to use for the farmer’s purposes. And so the farmer can control the speed and direction of the animals.It might sound like trading a burden for a yoke is no trade at all – one weight for another.
But Jesus told his followers that if they were heavy laden – if the weight of their sin had become unbearable – they could come to Him and find rest. He would remove their burden and relieve the pressure.
But Jesus said that the burden would need to be swapped out for a yoke. “Take my yoke upon you,” He said.
Isn’t that simply trading one burden for another?
In a way, yes.
But Jesus says “My yoke is easy And my burden is light.” When we take His yoke, He becomes our master. We surrender our will to His will. And in that exchange, we find rest.
This season of the year can be a season of stress. Anxiety. Activities. Hustle. Grief.
A season of burdens. Not the heavy burden of sin. But the burden of trying to do more than we were created to do. More than we can humanly do.
During this season, take His yoke. Make it your aim to accomplish what He would want you to accomplish during the holidays. Keep your eyes on Him. Keep finding your joy and peace in Him.
His yoke is easy. His burden is light.
Any last minute questions about Thursday night’s Christmas Pajama Party for the kids? Shoot an email to Matt Gurney and he’ll answer any questions you have. And remember, your kids friends are invited. It’s gonna be a blast. MattGurney77@gmail.com.
And any last minute questions about Saturday’s Christmas Tea for the ladies? Contact Maria Goff. Text or email. 252-947-8114 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you see the very nice piece Channel 7 did on Little Rock legend Bob Boyd? Click here to watch the video.
And if you're looking for some tidings of comfort and joy this weekend, Bob and his band will be performing a FREE Christmas show from 8-9 on Friday night at the Ron Robinson auditorium in the River Market district! Everyone's invited.
Last Sunday, the toddler class learned all about the birth of Jesus as John and Julie Majors shared with them what God wants for Christmas. They used a resource you might want to use with your children, grandchildren or neighborhood kids.
It’s called What God Wants for Christmas, and it was created by FamilyLife. It’s an interactive nativity scene that has a special surprise for the kids in box number 7.
The resource can be ordered through Amazon. Find out more about it here. And order here.
You may have already realized that Christmas Eve is on a Sunday this year. So, in addition to our morning worship service that day, we’ll be having our traditional Candlelight and Carols Christmas Eve service at 5:00 on Sunday night. It’s the perfect way to conclude the Advent season and to begin your celebration of the birth of Jesus. The service will last one hour.
Of course, friends and family are welcome (this is a perfect service to invite friends to).
And if you’re already starting to think about 2018, the Spring 2018 Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class will take place at The Summit Church in North Little Rock, beginning in January. This will be the 18th consecutive year that these classes have been offered in the Little Rock/NLR metro area.
Classes are on Tuesday nights, beginning on January 9 and continuing into early May. Find out more here, or contact Don Parish with any questions. Donparish47@comcast.net
Finally, I wanted to pass on some encouraging news to you. As we continue to work with a builder to finalize plans and lock down costs on a new church home for Redeemer, we were thrilled today to receive a generous $100,000 anonymous gift to our building fund.
Would you take a minute right now and offer a prayer of thanks to God for this gift? And please continue to pray for all the details of the building project, and for the remaining funding needs.
If you're interested in making a year end gift of cash or appreciated stock, and if you need any help with the details, talk to Laura White or Tim Friesen. They would be happy to assist you.
We’ll wrap up Romans 9 this week by looking at how the pursuit of righteousness can lead you away from God and not to Him. And we’ll light the second advent candle as we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Light of the World!
See you in church!
Soli Deo Gloria!
PS – Notice anything new about this week’s newsletter? If so, tell Alex Stauffer that he did a nice job!