Last night I dreamt that I was about to deliver a sermon in a small church with a few broken people in the audience. A young woman who just lost the love of her life, a group of elderly ladies that where angry that their world was changing to much, a young man who had been falsely accused, a family that could not afford food for the month and a few others all coming for existential relief, hoping for the miracle.
I could not go back to sleep as I could not let the dream go and I realized that the need of this handful of strays was the same as mine. So I got out of bed and wrote the sermon I needed to hear:
Jesus says: Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.
I want to focus on what Jesus does not say in this simple statement. but I will get back to that in a moment. If you like me are tired of being tired, if you have been kicked in the nethers and you are down for the count, if you have had all you can take and just cant take any more these words are for you. There is a place where you can come and rest, Set down your burden for a moment and let go of everything. a resting place.
It may sound nice and all but then again it may not be. You see the Christian cannon has a lot of books, 66 to be exact and not one of them is called miracles. There is no book called success or easy fixes or pie in the sky when you die. There is, however a book called lamentations. It’s a book for the downtrodden, the broken, the tired. It is a book that teaches us to raise our fists to the sky, stomp our feet and cry out’; Why god? It teaches us to scream, to cry, to pound our fists and to open up the flood gates of our emotional body and let rip. There is no Hollywood story line to the book of lamentations, there is no happy ending. There is only pain, express and release.
The rest that Jesus offers is not a five star spa resort with a Mai-Thai and a Swedish massage.
The rest that Jesus offers is the rest of the cross. It is the rest of wailing and crying out, the rest of facing our existential crisis and together with the Nazarene cry out: my god, my god why have you forsaken me.”
The rest that Jesus offers is the rest of the cross. It is the rest of wailing and crying out, the rest of facing our existential crisis and together with the Nazarene cry out: my god, my god why have you forsaken me. It is the rest of laying down our burden, to stop for a moment and actually really feeling our pain. And the ever present divine is there with us in our pain saying, it’s ok sweetheart I know it hurts, I am hurting too.
Here’s the kicker, when Jesus offers us this rest, it does not come with a promise to fix it, or to even carry it for us, it does not come with a simple solution or easy fix. It simply comes with the opportunity to take a break, to stop, breathe and to really feel what we are feeling. To pound that pillow, to cry out our pain and to express our emotional baggage. It comes with the opportunity to express our angst and then to release it.
At the end of our rest comes repentance. I know it’s not a popular word, but it is what happens when you have cleared the emotional storm inside. Repentance simply means to turn around, to do a 180. It is at the end of the why god and the why me that the realization comes that I have missed the mark, that I do not like reality as it looks right now and where my choices have brought me. So I pick up my burden, turn around, clean up the mess that I have made, make different choices and create a different reality.Repentance is not a requirement or a chore it just happens naturally when we release the emotional charge of our existential pain. Some may call this a miracle and maybe it is. For me it is the real dirty and messy reality of life and spirituality. This is my religion.