Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday - Coming Home


Coming home is a blessing.  We can sleep in our beds, shower in our own bathrooms, eat our own food.  Tired and exhausted, I imagine that many of us will crash onto the nearest sofa and take a long deserved nap. 

Part of coming home, though, means that we need to share what we experienced.  We are different people now that we have returned, and our families and friends need to know how we have changed.  When somebody asks you, “How was the mission trip?” don’t say, “good,” “fine,” “fun.”  Tell them a story.  Tell them who you met and what you thought about them.  Tell them about a meaningful conversation you had or something you saw that made you think about Jesus.

And the connections that you made with one another and with God must be maintained.  Sure, at home it will be different.  But different is not necessarily bad.  The real danger is losing the relationship you have forged, not that the relationship has changed.

Remember, St. Alban’s is a family of God welcoming everyone home. 

Welcome home.  It feels good to be back.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday - Rest


The fourth commandment is “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.”  In the Old Testament, the Sabbath was a day of rest from labor.  On top of that, there were prescribed Sabbath years, in which fields were meant to lay fallow.  Not only is this a period of rest for the laborers, but it allowed the soil to regain its strength after six growing seasons.

Two things happen during times of rest.  First of all, clearly, we rest from our labors.  We allow our minds and our bodies to relax.  On top of this, rest allows us to reflect.  If we worked 7 days a week nonstop, there would never be an opportunity to reflect on our work.  In some sense, we allow the fields of our mind to lay fallow, trusting that some new growth will take its place.

Resting and playing at the beach is great.  But what makes it so great is that we worked so hard.  A life without work becomes pointless and loses its orientation to God.  A life without leisure becomes hectic, overbearing, and exhausting.  A natural rhythm of work and rest must be fostered in order to thrive in God’s Kingdom.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday - Saying Goo-Bye

Goodbyes are never easy.  I am not talking about “see you later,” but about really saying goodbye.  By now, you have made friends with some of these other people from around the country.  But tomorrow morning we are going to say goodbye to all that.  Chances are, we will never see them again.  We may become Facebook friends, but the friendships that were forged here will never be re-created.
For Christians, saying goodbye takes on a different dimension.  Since we are the Church, people who have been called out by God, we can expect God to call us to go out in the future.  We need to expect goodbyes from our fellow believers.  We are simply nomads, travelers and wanderers following God’s call, wherever it may lead.  When we say goodbye, we must also be joyful and thankful for the time that we were able to share together.
This doesn’t make grief unchristian.  The Apostle Paul, as he was being taken to his execution in Rome, stopped at a number of Christian communities along the way.  At the Church in Ephesus, Paul shares some final words with them and they collapse into prayer, and into weeping.  The story says, “There was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving especially because of what he had said, that they would not see him again” (Acts 20:37-38).
Tonight and tomorrow, be earnest with your goodbyes.  Share one last moment of Christian fellowship, offering a hand or a hug or a Godly word that says, “In Christ’s Kingdom, I understand that disciples cannot stay together forever.” 
And take this as a lesson for the really big goodbyes: saying good-bye as you move off to college, saying goodbye to a home or a school, saying goodbye to a dying loved one.  Because right here and right now, people die.  That’s what it means to be human.  But this doesn’t mean that they are lost forever.  They simply move from one part of God’s Kingdom to another.

Finally, remember that goodbye is a shortened version of “God be with you.”  Goodbye is a blessing, a joyful phrase that speaks of God’s goodwill for us.

Question for reflection: What are some things or people that you don’t want to say goodbye to?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday - Community

There is no such thing as a “Lone Ranger Christian.”  To be a Christian means to be part of a community.  Jesus had a group of followers.  The first missionaries went out in pairs or small groups.  Churches are groups of believers who are gathered together for mutual support, encouragement, worship, and prayer.
The word “church” can also mean “assembly,” as in a group of people who are called out to assemble.  Think of school assemblies.  You are called out of your class and you assemble with a larger group for communal activities. 
In the same sense, the Church is called out of the world in order to assemble for prayer and worship.  The world is not necessarily an evil place, but it is a place in which Christ may or may not be known.  The Church is necessary because within this assembly we can be sure that we know Christ. 
2010 Mission Trip
Notice that the Church, in this context, is not a building.  At its core, the Church is not even a physical space.  The Church is made of people, spread across the world and even across time.  When we worship in southern Mississippi we are not separated from our loved ones back home.  In fact, when we worship, we are not even separated from those faithful who have died before us and those that will come after us.  In God’s magnificence, the Church is all faithful Christians, at every place and in every time.
This magnificence ought to drown out any minor squabbles or foibles that we may have.  Our Church is not St. Alban’s, it is not even the Episcopal Church.  The Church of Jesus Christ is bigger than all of that.  The Church of Jesus Christ is composed of folks that don’t look like us, don’t talk like us, don’t think like us, and don’t worship like us. 
This mission trip is a small example of what the Church is.  We have formed a community of Jesus Christ that was called out of Waco and into this place to do God’s work.  As a church community, we realize that we are part of something bigger.  As followers of Jesus, we can look beyond our neighbor’s smelly feet or odd mannerisms.  We can look beyond their differences of opinion.  We can look into their face, and find that we are looking at the face of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Question for reflection: What have you been called out to do?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday - Worship

As Episcopalians, the word “worship” usually conjures up some particular images.  We might envision pretty choirs, fancy robes, maybe some incense, and usually the bread and the wine of communion.  Truly, this is worship.  But it is only a type of worship.  Worship is “giving worth” to something.  This means setting aside the time, space, and energy to give worth to that particular thing.

With this definition in mind, no human being could possibly live without worship.  Even the most strident atheist worships something, be it cars, intelligence, or even himself.  At our very core, humanity was created for worship.  All of us, no matter how independent we are, have to worship something, even if it is that very independence.

It follow then that we become what we worship.  If we value independence, we become isolated curmedgeons.  If we value money, we become tightwads or money-grubbers.  If we value God, we become like God.

Herein lies the danger and the blessing.  If we worship the wrong thing, we become the wrong thing.  This is the path to destruction, a life of disarray, chaos, a void of love.  If we worship the right thing, we become like Jesus.  We become lovers, holy partners and friends with God. 

So the form of worship does not matter much.  What matters is the object of worship.  Because the object of our worship is the subject that we become.

Question for reflection: When have you had a worship experience?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday - Work

Work is a funny thing.  From kindergarten, we are trained to enter the workforce.  We are taught how to read, how to crunch number, how to think critically so that when we enter the working world, we will be prepared to handle the tasks that we face.  How odd, then, that nobody really wants to work too hard.  Most of us have problems getting to work late, rather than early.  Most of us complain about not having enough vacation, not about having too much.  I think if we all had an option, we would rather spend a life of leisure than a life of labor.

This is the inertia that we face in our lives.  Sunday through Thursday, I have to force myself to wake up, roll out of bed, and make my way to work.  But on Fridays, when I am headed to the golf course, I pop right out of bed without any complaints.  Work is a chore.

For Christians, work has to be something else.  It should not simply be for the making of money.  Work must be for something, about something.  This grand something is the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God is not something that is far off, something that we can only experience after our earthly deaths.  The Kingdom of God is present, and available to us right here and right now. 

We have two options when we work.  We can either work for ourselves or we can work for God’s Kingdom.  When we work for ourselves, we are in it for ourselves.  But when we work for the Kingdom of God, we are in it for the sake of those we are helping.  This leads us but to one place: Golgotha, Calvary, the Cross. 

Works of charity, helping others in the name of Christ, must be rooted in self-sacrificial love and faith in Jesus.  This may even lead us to the cross, a place of shame and desertion.  But, for Christians, we know that the cross is not the end of the story.  The journey of self-sacrificial love and faith always takes us to the empty tomb – to newer, brighter, and holier lives.

Question for reflection: Where have you seen the Kingdom of God today?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mission

This morning eight youth and three adults from St. Alban’s are leaving for a mission trip in southern Mississippi.  We will be working with Lutheran Episcopal Service Ministries and assisting them in their continued effort to rebuild the Gulf Coast following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  I ask all of you to pray for us as we work in God’s Kingdom this week.

However, we must remember that Christian mission should not be relegated to summer trips.   Christian mission is a vocation, it is an attitude in life that is developed by daily habits.  Spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and helping the afflicted in Jesus’ name can take place at HEB, in a restaurant, or even right at home. 

Throughout our week in Mississippi, we will keep referring back to our New Testament lesson from today.  This passage is strength for those who are doing God’s work away from home: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Sunday - Leaving Home


Leaving home is hard.  Leaving home means that we are separating ourselves from what we know best: our friends, our families, our routines.  Spending time in a new place, or worse, leaving home for good, means that we open ourselves up to insecurities. 

And when we leave home, there is always a counter-voice in the back of our minds.  It asks, “When you come back, will it be the same?  Will I be able to get back into my old routines?  Will my friends be there, and will they be the same?”  As humans, we crave normalcy, patterns of existence that give peace in an otherwise unsettling world. 

In the midst of these patterns, this normalcy, Jesus happens.  Jesus calls his followers away from their homes and their work.  Jesus calls his followers to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.”  When Jesus called those men and women to be his followers, he did not want them to remain the same.  This must not have been easy for the disciples.  They knew that the instant they dropped their fishing nets and followed him, they would be different.  In my mind’s eye, I always picture a slight hesitation, a pause that gripped the disciples, when they first heard the call.  “If I go, will I be different when I come back?”

Leaving home, then, is maybe not so much about things around us changing, but fearing that we are the ones who might change.  When we leave home and experience new things, we change.  This is simply the fact, and blessing, of leaving home.  Things will never be the same.

My prayer this week is that we are not the same people who left.  God is calling us to a new and different place, a place of work, worship, and community.  If through that experience we are left untouched by the Holy Spirit, then I’m afraid we have committed ourselves to Another. 

So when you leave home, don’t come back the same.  Come back with a new experience, a different point of view, a memory.  Then hold that in your mind with the Holy Spirit, and allow it to mold you into a different person.  A newer, and wiser follower of Jesus.

Question for reflection: How is God calling you to change?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Youth Mission Trip

The St. Alban's youth will be traveling to southern Mississippi this week to assist in the continued rebuilding efforts following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Starting this Sunday, each day on the mission trip will have a spiritual theme.  Parents and family members have written letters to the youth on each of these themes that they will read on that particular day.  I too have written brief reflections that I will share with the youth.

With the wonders of technology, these reflections will be automatically posted on this blog throughout the week.  Plus, I will be Tweeting them and putting them up on Facebook.  So read, enjoy, reflect, and pray for the youth of St. Alban's as they serve Christ this week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sermon from Sunday - "The Whole World's Waiting"

The Whole World’s Waiting

            By day, I am your ordinary, run of the mill, Episcopal priest.  But by night, I am a fantasy novel junkie.  You may have heard about it, but there was some buzz in the world of fantasy this week.  There is a series of popular fantasy books, the first of which is called A Game of Thrones, which is also an HBO series.  The most recent installment, A Dance with Dragons, was published just this week.  The series A Game of Thrones is Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings with political intrigue.  Take my word for it, the books are incredible.
            The story, the story of some mythical land that was simply conjured up by the author has me captured.  I couldn’t, and I still can’t shake out of it.  So by now I have read well over 5,000 pages in this series and I still have no idea how it is going to end.  The plot twists and turns and twists back again with such madness that the story as it started looks nothing like it does now.  So the end, when it comes, two books from now, will most definitely surprise me.
            Being surprised is what makes good fiction.  And to be honest, it’s what makes good religion as well.
            God’s story is one full of delightful surprises, one with plot twists and turns.  Take Joseph, for example.  His brothers sell him into slavery in Egypt, he manages to work his way out of prison, becomes a chief counselor for Pharaoh in Egypt, and then Joseph eventually saves his brothers from a famine; the very brothers who sold him.  Talk about a great story.
            Or take the story of Jesus, that’s another great one.  God himself is born to an unwed teenage mother.  He is poor.  He dies on a cross, and then takes up his body again.  All so that you and I can have new life in God.  That’s a great story too, filled with plot twists and delightful surprises.
            This is simply the nature of the Christian story.  Paul was out to arrest Christians and became one himself.  The church was persecuted by the Roman empire, and then it managed to take over the Roman empire.  You and I are drowned in water at baptism only to rise again with Jesus. 
            God’s stories for us, the stories of the Bible, the stories of the church and all the generations of Christians, are full of surprises.  The stories twist and turn, guided by the author of our salvation.  God surprises us with new friendships, with a kind word from a stranger, by showing up in the most unexpected places.
            So if God has surprised us so many times in the past, we should expect God to surprise in the future.  It’s in God’s future that we rest our hope.  For in hope, we were saved.  And we hope, in the unexpected.
            For the religions of the world, here’s the expected end to our story.  Everybody who lives good lives, or even relatively decent lives, and profess a certain god, goddess, or both, can expect to wind up in some eternal state of spiritual bliss.  You know the drill: angels, harps, clouds, pearly gates, whatever.  That’s the expected thing.  But seriously, that is so boring.  Hanging out in heaven, floating around on a cloud, forever?  And I don’t even like harps.  The God of Joseph, the God of Jesus Christ, the God of Paul and the God of this church is a much better author than that.  Surely God can write a better ending to the story.
            Well, the good news is that there is a better ending.  And the author of our salvation has given us a sneak peek at the ending, so that we can have a taste of what to expect.
            At the end of God’s story, souls do not fly off to heaven.  Heaven is a big deal, but it’s not the end of the world.  On Easter morning, Jesus’ spirit wasn’t whisked away into the clouds.  No, Jesus was a body again.  He ate, he drank, he breathed.  Our souls and our bodies are not two separate things.  They are one and together.  We are flesh and spirit in the same person.
So at the end of our days, when death comes knocking on the door, it’s not that our souls are released from our bodies.  That story is old and boring.  The story of Jesus Christ and our story is that both our bodies and our souls are made perfect together.  God actually wants to redeem us, to save us, flesh and blood.  Our redemption is not that we become spiritual beings or ghosts, but that we become new people.  That’s one delightful twist the to plot. 
But there’s more than that.  God has given us another small glimpse of the end of the story.  Our passage from Romans speaks of the hope that all creation has.  The hope that everything will be set free from its decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  All creation, everything, is looking forward to that day when it is remade, re-created by God.  This is surely not expected.  This is not the story from the religions of the world.
But this is God’s story, and God’s story is full of twists and turns.  When God writes a story, it has to be big, real big.  In God’s story, it’s not just humanity that is made new, made perfect, it is all creation.  Every rock, every tree, every hill.  Every stream, every lake, every drop of water.  Every dog, every cat, every mosquito, every dinosaur.  Every planet, every star, every comet, galaxy and black hole.  Every cloud, every thought, every day that has ever been, is looking forward to being remade perfectly.  With us, all of God’s creation groans inwardly, awaiting that great and glorious day when the author of salvation shall write in big, loving script, “The End.”
Now in the meantime, it’s not good enough to just wait around.  Like reading a great, big, fantasy novel, our life is lived one page at a time.  If you skip right to the end, you miss the build-up, the anticipation.  In the meantime, as we await our redemption, we have to take care of ourselves – our souls and our bodies.  What we do with our bodies affects the health of our souls.  We are unified people, body and soul together, and they will be redeemed together.  Don’t think of your body as some prison that is holding your soul back – instead use your body along with your soul to serve God.  When you kneel to confess your sins, humble also your heart.  When you physically eat and drink, allow God to nourish your soul.  And take care of your bodies, because your bodies are the only way that you know your soul.
And as the whole world awaits redemption, this means that we also have to care for creation.  We don’t escape our bodies to know God.  In the same way, we don’t leave this earth to know God.  In fact, we can know God simply by looking around at creation, at a tree, at the stars, or through a microscope.  Just as we care for our bodies, we need to care for this world. This is living hopefully; living as if the end of the story has already been written, an ending in which God makes all things new.
Christianity is materialism, holy materialism.  We care for our flesh and blood, we care for those who are hungry and thirsty, we care for the trees and the waters.  And we care, because God cares about these things, cares enough to write them into the end of the story.  And though we don’t see it now, we live in hope that God will redeem all that we see and all that we know.  We hope for what we do not see.  So that at the end, all that we see will be made new.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Holy Dying

The Rt. Rev. Jeremy Taylor
The 17th century Anglican bishop and writer Jeremy Taylor wrote what can be called a holistic reflection on Christian life and death.  In "Holy Living, Holy Dying," Taylor is unashamed to speak openly of life's mean brevity and the myriad of chance circumstances that lead to death.  Here is one of my favorite lines from "Holy Dying:"

As our life is very short, so it is very miserable; and therefore it is well it is short.

To put it in our language: It's a good thing life is short because life is miserable.

Taylor did not have what we would call "a happy life."  Embroiled in the political machinations of the day, he was imprisoned twice for his religious affiliation and buried a number of his children.  It stands on reason that a political prisoner who outlives his children must live a miserable life.

But there is a profound, albeit latent, sense of joy throughout Taylor's works.  That joy is expressed in Christ.  Taylor understood that his problems were not the end of the world.  Rather, the end of the world is actually the re-creation of all things when God will give new life and new form to those things which had grown old and decayed.

It's not the end of the world to lose a child, a parent, a friend.  It's not even the end of the world when our short and miserable lives are concluded.  The end of the world is a new dawn, a bright beginning with a God who dares to make all things new.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Breaking the Law

The 80s heavy metal band Judas Priest had a hit song, "Breaking the Law," in 1980.  I find the tune to be irritatingly catchy.  And the music video is a riot.  The band "breaks the law" by robbing a bank, not with guns, but with their guitars and bad hair.

Seriously, you have to check out this music video.  It will change your life (but not necessarily for the better).


It's a weird transition to go straight into a theological commentary on the apostle Peter, but I'll give it a try.  

In Acts 10, Peter has a vision and is compelled by the Holy Spirit to visit a Roman centurion, Cornelius, a God-fearing man. Remember, for Peter, a Jew, this was a big step.  The very early church believed that one had to be a Law abiding Jew before one could be a follower of Jesus.  Peter broke the law by baptizing Cornelius and proclaiming that God's Kingdom was wide enough to encompass all people from all places.

In his report to the other disciples in Jerusalem, Peter says, "If then God gave Cornelius and his household the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?" (Acts 11:17).

This has been a refrain repeated throughout the centuries.  The Church, in all its frailty and insecurity, has always tried to exclude others and to draw narrow definitions of who is in and who is out.  But God will not be hindered.  Time and again those laws that we have constructed have been turned to dust.  Peoples of all colors, of all races, of all backgrounds, both male and female, are included in God's Kingdom.    

God is breaking the law.  We must not ask this question: "Is God's Kingdom grand enough for all people to join it?"  That question was answered by Christ and the Church's loving inclusion of all people.  The question is: "Do we have the faith to grab our guitars, let down our bad hair, and break the law with God?"


Sunday, July 3, 2011

"No Secrets" - Sermon from Sunday

                                                                                            
 No Secrets

            Last year at this time, Maggie and I were new to Waco.  We were pumped to celebrate the fourth of July in our new city.  There was a big spread and an article in the Waco Tribune-Herald about all that was going on in Waco over the holiday weekend.  Maggie I pored over it with growing excitement for fireworks.  Being new to town, this was the vital information that we needed to make sure that we knew how to get downtown to see the fireworks show.  So we opened up the paper to find printed: “Street closings are the same as those for last year’s show.”    

            Maggie and I were mystified; were we the only people that have moved to Waco over the entire year?  Was there some big secret that everybody else knew?  Was it some big joke that the Trib was playing on us?

            Fortunately, with a little bit of help from our new friends, Maggie and I were initiated into the secret.  We got the information we needed, and we got to see the fireworks.  And now we know which streets will be closed this year.

            I know that many of you have had similar experiences.  And sadly, those experiences may have happened at an Episcopal Church.  You know, Episcopalians are a funny people.  And I mean funny, because we would be great jugglers in a circus.  We manage to juggle a Prayer Book, a hymnal, a worship leaflet, and a scripture insert.  Then, with our fifth hand we pass along the offertory plate while with our sixth and seventh hands we take communion.  

            But of course, not everybody who walks into these church doors has learned our ways.  So if you see somebody that is just learning to juggle, please, lend them a hand.  And if you are just learning to juggle, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  

            Even though it may be awkward to navigate all of these materials in your first worship service at an Episcopal Church, don’t think that there is some big secret.  You see, in the Church of God, there is no secret knowledge or hidden code.  There is not some vital piece of information, some great secret, that only I get to know as a priest.  The Church of God is not a Ponzi scheme, where the higher one works up the ladder, the more and more you get to know and have.  That’s not how it works.  

            Now, there are things that I, as a priest, have to hold in confidence.  Things that people tell me or have to get off their chest.  But that’s different.  Those aren’t secrets; those are conversations held in confidence.  Secrets are bits of information that only some people get to know, while others are intentionally left in the dark.

            And that’s not how this Church functions.  We are a public institution, a public gathering of followers of Jesus.  Our initiation is baptism, and that is done in front of the whole church.  Our worship is eating and drinking bread and wine, and that is performed publicly.  Whatever little I know about God and the Christian life I share openly with you.  For heaven’s sake, we have a Bible study in a bar.  How public can you get?  There are no secret passwords, no hidden meanings, nothing that requires that you were here last year to get the scoop.  

            The Church is a public institution because our Lord Jesus had a very public ministry.  Without shame, before the great crowds following him, Jesus proclaimed: “Come to me, all that you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest!”  Jesus’ desire for us to follow him, to lay our burdens, our troubles, at his feet, is no secret.  When we talk about Jesus Christ being good news, it is exactly that.  It is news that has been published and broadcast across the centuries; the good news has never been kept quiet.  It is no secret that God loves us, that Jesus wants us to take up his yoke and to learn from him.  For that yoke, that obedience and companionship with Jesus, is easier than thinking we can sort through our issues alone.

            So here’s the other piece of information that is no secret.  Following Jesus is not for those who have perfect lives.  The Church of God is not composed of perfect people; it’s composed of broken people who are bringing their heavy burdens to Jesus. 
 
            During my first year of seminary, two of my best college buddies from UT came to visit me.  They made that long drive from Austin to Washington, D.C. to see this crazy thing that I was doing with my life.  And to tell you the truth, they were a little scared about visiting me at the seminary, because neither one had much experience in the Church.  My buddies were afraid that everybody there would be self-righteous, perfect people who had their lives together.  My non-church going buddies were afraid they would be judged.  And were there in for a surprise.
 
            Even seminarians, those people who had been called to the priesthood, had their baggage.  They came from broken families, they had broken bodies, they had broken hearts.  Even those seminarians were not perfect people, they were broken people who were bringing their burdens to Jesus.  As my friends returned to Texas, they came away from my seminary with a whole different view of the Church.  They discovered that the Church of God, people like you and me, are people who have messed up in life, and have had terrible things happen.  We are not flawless people who look down on the world.  We are broken people, just like everybody else.  We follow Jesus not because we have our life together, but because Jesus is the only way that our lives can hold together.

It is no secret – Jesus gives rest to those who come to him.

            As followers of Jesus, the first and foremost place that we must lay our burdens is at the altar.  This table, and this meal that we share is the hospital for sinners; it is strength for the weak; encouragement for the cowardly.  At this meal you can leave whatever burden you are carrying, no matter how heavy, how serious, how debilitating.  As Christians, we can get consumed with what Jesus meant when he said, “This is my body” and “This is my blood.”  We can start thinking that it must have been some secret code.  But it’s not.  Think beyond that.  What really matters is that taking communion, having the Eucharist, is good for us.  It is medicine for the soul.  It is our chance to lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus, and to find rest.  

            The secret is out.  Jesus Christ is present with us, right here and right now.  We no longer have to suffer under our own burdens of sin and despair.  Jesus invites us, no, commands us to come to him, to come to this table, and take our rest.  For his yoke is the bread of heaven, and his burden is the cup of salvation.