OT 14: 6th Sunday after Pentecost

July 9, 2023

Lectionary Texts

Genesis 24.34-38, 42-49, 58-67. Abraham’s servant goes back to their home country seeking a wife for Isaac. He finds Rebecca, and with her family’s blessing, the servant takes her back to Isaac, and they are married.

Psalm 45. A royal wedding psalm, blessing the couple.

Romans 7. 14-25. Paul describes the human experience of sin: I do not do the thing I want, but the very thing I hate. It’s as if sin lives in me and makes choices for me.

Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30. Jesus says people criticize him for eating and drinking, yet, criticize John the Baptist for fasting. Sheesh. He says, “Come to me, you who are weary, take my yoke…”

Preaching Thoughts

The tricky thing about sin is that we’re trying not to sin. In the battle between good and evil we think we’re on the right side, but it doesn’t seem to help. We can never actually be good enough. We mean to be playing for the right team but we keep accidentally scoring for the opposition. Sin seems to be more than our own choice. It’s as if sin lives in us and makes choices for us. Trying harder does not free us from this battle; only God’s grace does. Rather then help us be good enough God removes us from the battle. There’s no such thing as “good enough!” We’re just loved.
       This matches our experience of addiction. Paul pretty clearly anticipates the Twelve Steps: “1. We admitted we were powerless over [sin]— that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”

“We piped and you didn’t dance; we wailed and you didn’t mourn.” Some people won’t answer God’s call no matter how it comes. What are the ways we resist God’s grace, avoid God’s call, refuse God’s gifts?
       This passage is what I think it means to “believe in Jesus.” It’s not about your doctrinal opinion. It’s about being in a trusting, intimate, sharing relationship with Jesus. When we share in his compassion for the world, we are yoked with him—like married partners. But this is not a burden; it is rest for our souls. The paradox is that to come to Jesus is to receive both rest and also work: a yoke. I like to take full advantage of the quirk in English that “my burden is light” can mean both “the load is not heavy” and also “what I bear is pure light.” Light, it turns out, is not heavy. What an easy burden, to bear the light of God!

Call to Worship

Leader: Holy One, Heart of Heaven, you create us; you call to us.
All: In love we come. In love we come.
Loving Christ, Hands of Heaven, you hold a place for us.
In love we come. In love we come.
Holy Spirit, Breath of Heaven, you move in us to labor with you.
In love we come. In love we come. In love we are here.

Leader: Loving God, we come to you because you invite us.
All: Gentle God, we come to you weary.
We are carrying heavy burdens— of work and family,
of world news and a struggling planet.
Jesus, give us rest.
You are gentle and humble in heart.
In you we find rest for our souls.
Set your yoke of love upon us, Jesus.
Yoke us to your heart, for your yoke is easy,
and your burden is light. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

Holy Mystery, there are empty spaces in our hearts that only you can fill; there is a longing that is only for you. And you long for us. Speak to us and let us hear your voice, the voice of love that speaks our name. Let us hear your call, and come. Amen.

God of love, as you provided Rebecca as a wife for Isaac, so you provide love for us. You include us in the household of your grace. You invite us to come; and you offer rest for our souls. And so we come. Give us your holy rest, that we may go forth yoked with Christ in love. Amen.

God of grace, Jesus calls us to take on his yoke. Bless us that we may find rest for our souls as we worship. Yoke us together in companionship with Christ and each other. Lay upon us the yoke of ministry to all for the sake of your Good News, in the name of Christ. Amen.

God of grace, God of mystery, there is so much of our lives, so much in the world, that we do not know, that is beyond our understanding. We come to you in humility and trust, surrendering our desire to judge and to control. Bless us that now in our worship, and in all our lives, we may devote ourselves to your will and your wisdom alone. We pray in the name and the spirit of Jesus. Amen.

2. [Mt. 11.28-30]
Leader: Jesus says, “Come to me, all you that are weary…”
All: We are tired. We bring our weariness.
“You who are carrying heavy burdens…”
Here, we lay our burdens down, lay them down.
“I will give you rest.”
We rest in you. We are not striving, but simply being here.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;.”
We would learn your ways, learn to trust and love and live.
“For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
For your gentleness we give thanks.
For our rest we give you ourselves.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Set your yoke of love upon us, O Christ,
and give us the burden of your light.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

God, we come to you, weary.
We lay down our heavy burdens.
You who are gentle and humble in heart,
give us rest for our souls.
Yoke our hearts to Jesus,
that we may learn the ways of love,
that we may live with courage and peace. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Most merciful God, we confess
that we have separated ourselves from you,
that we have not been mindful of your presence
or lived in your Spirit;
and in our isolation we have lived hurtfully.
We are sorry, and we repent.
Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
and restore us in your grace. Amen.


Romans 7.14-25, a paraphrase

God, you love me purely, but I don’t trust that.
I’ve been brainwashed by self-centered fear.
It’s an instinct, a reflex, an addiction. I can’t stop it.
I act in ways I don’t understand.
I believe the right things, but I don’t live them.
I don’t do the good I mean to; I do the evil I hate.
I’m not even choosing; my fear is.
I’m on the right side in good versus evil,
but I keep scoring for the other team!
In my mind I think I’m faithful to your love,
but in reality I’m being controlled by my sin.
I’ve been kidnapped. My heart has been hijacked.
I can’t get out of this. Trying harder doesn’t work.
I’m trapped. I’m doomed.
What a wretched person I am! Who will rescue me? 

Thanks be to God: it’s the Beloved, Jesus Christ.



If I were an ox
and You my driver,
would I mind?

If love were my yoke,
would I balk?
If I walked a path
whose way I could not see,
whose end I could not know,
would I complain?

If I pulled a cart laden
with riches beyond my knowing,
bound for strangers,
would I refuse?

Oh, Driver, Brother, You
who set me free,
crack your whip of light.
Let’s walk this joyful road.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

We love and trust you, God, eternal creator,
present in all times and places.

We come to you, Christ, for you are here beside us.
We are weary and carrying heavy burdens.
Give us your rest.
Place your yoke upon us, that we may learn from you;
for you are humble and gentle,
and you give us rest for our souls.
We follow you, Christ, for your yoke is easy,
and your burden is light.

We rely upon you, holy Spirit of God.
By your presence within us
keep us, guide us and sustain us
in lives of love for the sake of the world. Amen.

Leader: Jesus, we hear you call, and we answer:
All: Christ, we are weary and carrying heavy loads.
we come to you,
We lay down our burdens, and empty our hands.
We take your yoke upon us: your love,
your oneness with all beings, your call to justice.
We learn from you: the grace of God,
the Way of Love, life in your Spirit.
We take your yoke upon us.
You are gentle, and humble in heart, and we find rest and life in you.
We thank you, and we join with you.
Your yoke is easy. Your burden is light.
We accept your yoke. We bear your light into the world.
You will be with us.
Jesus, Living Love, we yoke our hearts to yours. [ Silence….]

God, we admit we are powerless over sin.
Our lives have become unmanageable.
But we believe that you can restore us to wellness.
And so by the grace of your Spirit in us
we turn our will and our lives over to your care.
Set your yoke upon us, give us rest for our souls,
and let us learn from you.

Eucharistic Prayer

[After the introduction, the body of the prayer may be read responsively with the presiding leader(s) and congregation, or by the leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

We thank you God, for your grace.
You create us, claim us, and continually set us free.
In our struggles and our weariness you accompany us in Jesus,
saying, “Come to me, you who are weary,
and I will give you rest for your souls.”
We come, and lay down our burdens, and we are renewed.
In humble gratitude we sing your praise with all Creation.

            [Sanctus, spoken or sung:]
        Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and might,
        heaven and earth are full of your glory.
        Hosanna in the highest.
        Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
        Hosanna in the highest.
               [or alternate version]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ, the Lamb of God.
He taught and healed, he included the outcast,
he fed the hungry and forgave the guilty.
He was gentle and humble in heart, and we learned from him.
We come to him weary, and he lays his yoke of love upon us,
and we find rest for our souls and strength for the labors of love.

     (The Blessing and Covenant)
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

             [Memorial Acclamation, spoken or sung:]
        Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
        Dying, Christ destroyed our death. Rising, Christ restores our life.
        Christ will come again in glory.
             [or alternative]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us, that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
yoked with Jesus, bearing the burden of light
for the sake of the healing of the world.

     [Spoken or sung]

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending / after Communion

[Adapt as needed.]
Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.) In gratitude we give you our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. Yoke us together with Christ in love and service for the sake of the healing of the world, in the power of your Holy Spirit.
Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.) You have given us a sign of your faithfulness and yoked us together as the Body of Christ. Send us into the world to serve others on behalf of Christ, and to give rest to those who are weary with heavy burdens, in the name of Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

Drawing Me         (Original song)

Holy One, Mystery, how will you keep drawing me
nearer to the heart within the heart?
Nearer still falling in, closer to the heart within,
draw me God. I fall into your love.

Holy One, you are calling, you are drawing,
I am falling into you in love.

Deep in me there’s a voice, there’s a hunger, there’s a choice,
seeking something vital that is you.
By your grace drawing me, may I fall eternally,
nearer to my center deep in you.

Holy One, you are calling, you are drawing,
I am falling into you in love.

Your Cart
  • No products in the cart.