Manage episode 371238367 series 3023172
In just a few days, the City of Toronto will install a new mayor. This election was a milestone. The three leading candidates were immigrants or children of immigrants. Two of them were people of colour. For the first time in Toronto's history, we will have a mayor who is a racialized person of colour and an immigrant. It's a historic moment. It signifies the kind of place Toronto has become – as a city that draws people from all over the world
It was also an important election because there are so many issues in the city: Acts of random violence have increased. The problem of homelessness and lack of shelters has grown. Our transportation system is facing issues. Cost of housing is through the roof.
But when I think about it, I don't think any of this really mattered much to a lot of people. For most people, this news, if it even registered, was met with a collective shrug. Voter turnout wasn't terrible, but the level of emotional engagement was very low.
I wonder if this is how Jesus felt during his lifetime. Jesus was Emmanuel – God with us. The living presence of God in the flesh. He came to usher in a new reign of God. He performed great deeds to signify the beginning of this kingdom. People should have marveled at these great deeds, see them for what they were – the beginning of a new era of God's good works – and changed their lives in response to it. I mean, if you see powerful deeds that mark the beginning of a new thing that God is doing, there is nothing else to do but change!
But that's not what happened. Instead of wonder and change, Jesus encountered unresponsive numbness. This is what he says in today's passage:
But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.' (Matthew 11:16)
Unresponsive numbness: Is this what life is like today? When things happen around us, do we just greet it with blank stares?
Our Hearts Are Tired
I don't think that people have no feeling. All of us have feeling. We all care about things. I am thankful for the people of our church: warm, kind, accepting. I think the problem is that people are just overwhelmed with all the things they need to care about
It is not that people lack feeling, it's that people's hearts are tired. So many things weigh on their hearts. Many worries. Many anxieties
Living day to day takes its toll on us. Bumping up against others in our daily encounters. Being in toxic environments. Feeling lack of purpose in what you do. Going through that daily grind without end. These things leave nicks and bruises on our hearts. They take a toll. They weigh on us. Even when we want to care, when we encounter indifferent numbness in others, it makes our hearts more tired.
Sometimes we confuse the brain and the heart. Our work and daily requirements consume us. Our brains get tired. We want to shut down our minds. Shut them down and enjoy some pleasures to rest our minds. But our minds are different from the heart. Shutting off our minds does not give rest for our hearts.
The heart is our spiritual center. It is what makes us human. It is the seat of empathy. It is the seat of care. It is the place where hope is born and our imagination comes alive. It is also the gateway to God. It is the place we encounter God. Our brains articulate our experience of God and process our understanding of God, but the heart is where we experience God
When our hearts are tired, all of these capacities are diminished. When you don't get enough sleep, your physical and cognitive functions diminish. When your heart is tired, your human and spiritual capacities diminish. You lose capacity for empathy. To care. When your heart is tired, you are unable to concern yourself with anything beyond your own surroundings. There is no room in your heart for more. Everything feels burdensome. When your heart is tired, you become numb to things around you. Instead of being inspired, you become jaded, cynical and judgemental. This is how people responded to people like Jesus and John.
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a demon'; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' (Matthew 11:17)
Jesus and John were sent by God. They were God's messengers and agents. But they could not recognize that. When your heart is tired, you cannot recognize God. You cannot feel life. Life becomes merely a string of activity with no meaning. No joy.
Sleep restores, regenerates and heals the body. In the same way, our hearts need rest. Rest that restores, regenerates and heals the heart. Rest that allows our hearts to feel again. Rest that makes room for others in our hearts. Rest that lets us see God at work. Rest that heals our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh
What do our hearts need? How does the heart get rest? The heart needs to be heard. What is therapy? It is an intentional space to be heard. Good therapists and counselors are trained to listen. The therapeutic process happens as you feel heard. It is when we feel heard and understood that our hearts find rest and healing
Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Come to me, and I will give you rest. Come to me, and lay down your burdens. Come to me, and be heard. Come to me, and be understood. Come to me, and be comforted. Come to me, and find rest for your weary heart.
There is a famous hymn. I'm sure many of you know it.
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
Prayer is nothing other than laying out our hearts to God. It is being heard by God. It is being understood by God. It is finding rest in God's gracious and loving presence.
Jesus says this:
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; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. (Matthew 11:25-26)
I still remember when Joonie was born. Deb had a very long and arduous labour – over 24 hours. After giving birth, she was totally wiped out. First night: no sleep because of other baby. Second night: Deb exhausted, slept. I had Joonie all night: he would cry out if I put him down – had to be held all night. When he was in my arms as I walked up and down the hospital hallway, he would be calm and sleep.
Infants cry out when they have needs. They cry and cry until their need is met. Infants don't have words to articulate their needs. They simply know they have needs and cry out for them to be met. When the parent responds and holds them, they are soothed. They feel secure and confident. They find peace and can rest.
Many times we don't even know what our heart needs. We don't have words to express what's in them. But to find rest for our hearts, we need to be like infants and cry out to God. The psalmist says this:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)
Even when you don't have the words to express what's in your heart, come to God and say this simple prayer.
Rest is the culmination of creation. On the seventh day, God rested and blessed all of creation. In rest, we find the blessings of life. In rest, we find strength for another day. God made the Sabbath so that our hearts may rest in him. Coming to worship God is to find rest in his presence.
Find rest in Christ. And with a rested heart, be the presence of Christ for others in whom they too can find rest.