St. James' Episcopal Church
Goshen, Indiana

Our 158th Year

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Sermon for July 6th, 2008

Sermon for Sunday July 6, 2008
St. James’ Goshen IN
Arthur Hadley

In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul laments the personal struggle of trying to fulfill all of the Jewish Law that would lead to righteousness. The Law started fairly simply with the Ten Commandments, but how to keep holy the Sabbath day ballooned to a whole set of rules and regulations of keeping Kosher food laws and a host of confusing rules of what constituted work which could not be done on the Sabbath. Can you rescue an ox that has fallen into a ditch. Do the rules of hospitality over rule the rules of preparing food on the Sabbath. And on and on. Trying to keep all of the laws became increasingly difficult if not impossible. Any infraction of the law was fatal. Any infraction of the law was sin, and sin led to death and damnation.

But Paul sees that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus frees humanity from the cycle of law, sin and death by giving humanity a new life and peace in the Spirit of God.

Jesus said Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The simplicity of Christianity sometimes takes on great complications from the Old Testament and later church ruling that Jesus and Paul were working very hard to avoid. The yoke of Christ is easy, my burden is light, accept life and peace. We need to trust in God to meet our needs, perhaps not all of our wants, but our needs.

Many years ago we were traveling in western Wales. One day we had a woman of maturity as our guide walking the Welsh mountain pilgrim trail leading toward St. David’s Cathedral. Our guide carried a lovely wooden walking stick. I asked her where I could buy such a wonderful walking stick. She pulled herself up to her total four foot 10, and assured me that in Wales one does not buy a walking stick God provides the proper stick at the proper time. You either find a stick or grow a stick, but you certainly do not buy a walking stick.
A few years later I was on a week retreat at a Trappist monastery, in the hills of Kentucky It was a rainy week, but I walked in the hills surrounding the monastery. I was about 3 miles away from the monastery walking along a ridge. Oops I slid down about 15 feet, badly bruising leg and pride. I needed a walking stick. I reached out my hand to find a bit of a brace to stand up. And there was my walking stick It has a place on top to hold my thumb and a bit of a twig that fits on my hand and acts as a pivot; so the pivot point allows the stick to rock as I walk. I had a need, no long a want, and there was my walking stick.
My yoke is easy and my burden is light. God provides in times of need. I wanted a walking stick in Wales; I needed a walking stick in Kentucky. God provides for our needs
Thanks be to God.

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