The Advent lectionary and my little Advent series here collided randomly this Sunday in the most satisfying way. Yesterday’s scriptures, “He shall feed his flock” was featured for the Old Testament and then were repeated by Christ to John the Baptist in the gospel and as soon as I sat down in church, a lovely Mezzo-soprano and soprano sang the Messiah scriptures. I sat and bathed.
Later the children and I chatted about what we needed to be fed by our Shepherd. We pulled off tags with words scrawled vertically on a paper in a prayer station, much like you would find at a Laundromat for a dog-sitting service. Simple and uncomplicated. We fingered them in our pockets for the rest of the evening, small kinesthetic prayers. Xavier picked, “love.” Caedmon picked, “joy.” I chose peace. I desperately need peace from loud and crowding Christmas expectations.
I had already held the round see-through wafer in my hand, prayed for more “Jesus,” put the wafer on my tongue to dissolve. I’m always desperately in need of more Jesus.
The rest of the aria from the Soprano is what echoed in my mind later, “Come unto me all ye that labour.” It was one of the first arias I was handed in college. I listened but struggled not to breathe with her, mouth every word. Once you’ve sung anything for an audience your muscle memory takes over and the words are not just words, they are words connected to the diaphragm strength it takes to sing those words.
This was the phrase that stood out: “Take My yoke upon you and learn of me.” As I heard the phrase repeated I wondered how many yokes I had taken on this Advent. And whose they were, because they were not His and they should not have been mine.
The image being used by Christ here is of an oxen and a double yoke, and the promise that yoked up with the Almighty God in the other half, our assigned work will not strain us out of God-rest.
When we do too much, we are slipping out of the yoke, trying to pull in our own strength. We strain hard and soon drop exhausted.
I wondered how many other yokes I have picked up, determined that I need to look over each one, ask them whose they are and if it’s time to lay them down. Holley Gerth in this girlfriend-chat of a book, You’re Already Amazing, (which I love) says there are both talents that we are given and some we are not endowed. On Purpose. God doesn’t want us to try to take over everyone else’s gift. He just wants us to walk forward in ours, with His Almighty empowering fastened securely.
This Christmas season I’m giving up perfect. I’m giving up the fear that my kids won’t have a magical Christmas. I’m giving up the fear that my dear sister-in-law won’t like her gift.
I’m giving up the hype. I’m so done with the hype. I just want more Jesus…for all of us.
Perhaps an Advent journal entry or just a simple list in your prayer time:
What yokes have you taken on that may not be yours? Where is the most strain, the least God awareness in your life?
What expectations of the holidays are building up your anxiety?
Perhaps these jobs or expectations need to be reattached to the strength of God, (I can’t do this in my strength any longer) perhaps they need to be slipped off your neck, given to the antique shop to hang on their crowded wall…
We’re on our way, dear friends, there are just a few more turns in the path to the manger. Come with? Put your email in the CONNECT box and pilgrimage with us. We’re also partnering and working up some lovely treasures for you in the New Year. You don’t want to miss a thing.
linking today with Jen Ferguson with the Soli Deo Gloria sisterhood where she is sharing about a free 30 day book encouraging us to stand with slaves around the world: January is Human Trafficking Awareness month. Yes. Let’s do this.