Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

God and Rest (Matthew 11:25–30)

Daily Lenten Reflection - Saturday, 4 March 2017

Week 1: The Mission of God

Week 1, Day 4

“A Prayer at Compline”

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God who Gathers (Mark 1:16–20)

Samuel Dawai, Lutheran, Cameroon

At that time Jesus said, “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. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

If “rest” is defined as a break from work, motion or activity, then it can be understood as being no more than a time of calm and quiet. The rest that comes from God is a gift, given even to those who do not expect it.

In the reading from Matthew, the rest that God grants us gives us access to the Father and to salvation. It can only be given by the Son, sent by the Father. This Good News has been rejected by the “wise and the intelligent.” The Father has revealed it by his gracious will to “infants” and has hidden it from the “wise and the intelligent” (Mt 11:25–27).

The Good News is not received by those who we assume might be open to the message of Jesus. To receive God’s gift of rest, we must come to God with open hands—like beggars, like children. The “wise and intelligent” are not capable of understanding the message of Jesus; as long as they believe that they can understand God, they cannot know God. The rest that comes from God is not simply handed out, but must first be desired. God’s grace goes hand in hand with responsibility

Matthew speaks of Jesus’ teachings as follows: “my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Here, Jesus uses the paradoxical language of heaviness and fatigue in order to point to the exact opposite, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

The rest that God grants us is not merely there to recognize that Jesus is sent by the Father, but also to receive him, who does not impose yokes and burdens as those imposed by the teachers of Jewish law of the time. Jesus’ message is easy and light to bear for those who are tired of searching for God by their own efforts, or those who have been overburdened by the traditions that Christianity has added beyond the Scriptures. We do not come to know God on our own. We come to God humbly, like a child who is hungry or thirsty. Jesus promises a spiritual rest and interior refreshment and renewal.

“On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee has compiled a collection of Lenten reflections to commemorate the anniversary. The text can be used by small groups or individual, as a Lenten reading or as a resource for the weeks between Easter and Trinity Sunday. We are sharing these reflections daily during Lent, hoping that our common experience of God’s grace may draw our two families of churches closer together in this extraordinary year, and be used beyond 2017 and actually at any time.”