painting of medieval church in summer

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Although I have picked up the task of typing the order of service for our Sunday morning worship, that doesn’t mean I read the bulletin ahead of time, especially if whoever is planning the service has copied-and-pasted in various blocks of text representing parts of the service.

This explains how today’s prayer of confession hit me right between my astonished eyes:

God of eternal possibilities, you sent your Son into the world with a surprising love for us and for our lives. We confess that sometimes we feel overwhelmed by daily life: by the many challenges and decisions we face each day. When we are tired or confused, remind us to drink deeply of the waters of your wisdom. Remind us to refresh our spirits with the love from which we came, to which we shall someday return, and which is our message today to our world.

“Overwhelmed.” The top way I would describe myself, certainly for the past three weeks.

Surely we do not think that “feeling overwhelmed” is sin …

But I can see how sin can contribute to it: the way I imagine that everything is up to me (a feeling I like until I stop liking it); the way I style myself and my particular efforts as indispensable; the way I feel it’s imperative to impress people, according to the prevailing standards that produce “impressiveness,” whatever those are; the way I’m so used to the idea that I’m “supposed” to say “yes” to everything everyone wants me to say “yes” to that I do it reflexively before checking it out in any way with the Holy Spirit or even making a gesture in the direction of discernment or prayer …

So I felt an enormous sense of relief when we prayed that prayer.

I don’t normally think of “relief” as the feeling that goes along with being “convicted of sin.” I usually think of “guilt” or “shame” or “remorse” or “contrition.” How I feel, or ought to, when someone is yelling at me. “Sorry!!!”

This did not feel like being yelled at.

This was more like someone saying: “Hey … that thing you do? That keeps you from looking towards God? You don’t have to keep doing that. Really. You can stop now.”

You have that freedom. In fact.

I could stop.

You can stop.

Slow down. Trust God.

Watch what happens.

Flemish Baroque peasants doing summer work in a field with a church in the background
“Summer” – Pieter Brueghel the Younger
“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.” Matthew 11:28-30

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