One of the joys of lockdown has been being part of the lay compline rota. Every evening at 9pm compline is led on our congregational Facebook page in wonderfully diverse ways.
My old paper copy of the office sets as the scripture reading: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. These words are, perhaps, among the most beautiful in the whole Bible; indeed, the Book of Common Prayer includes this text among the uplifting verses it labels the Comfortable Words.
Except, of course, they’re not comfortable. Behind their beauty, there is, typically, paradox. Christ, literally, takes upon himself the yoke of the cross, and carries the burden of sin and alienation. His yoke is not obviously easy, nor his burden light.
This is a hard time for St Martin’s. Much is being asked of colleagues and friends in all parts of our community. Many feel the pain of rejection, and others of making the least bad choice. This is a hard time for our country, and the world. Our politicians seem to struggle with the competing demands of science, opinion, safety, and the economy. This is a hard time for individuals. Many of us are weighed down by our own burdens: ill-health, relationships, bereavement, money, job insecurity, responsibility, isolation, anxiety, uncertainty.
But hear again the uncomfortable words of Jesus: his yoke is easy, and his burden is light. His way is the way of the cross: there’s no getting away from it. But it is easy because it’s faced with the incarnate God who takes on humanity’s pain, and because it’s faced with the Spirit who is beside us; it is light because it’s faced with our sisters and brothers. However hard the way, let us share our burdens with God, and let us share them with each other.