Burdens – A Advent 4 – December 23 2012

Luke 1 : 39-55bearing_burdens

May the words of our lips and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable and pleasing to you O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

Burdens. To be a burden, according to the Collins Gage Canadian paperback dictionary, you need to be a heavy load of things to carry, responsibility, worry, etc. or anything difficult to bear. So for a little conversation, this group here, I’d like some examples of burdens that the world gives you. What has the world burdened you with?

This group over here, what are examples of burdens that God gives you? What has God burdened you with?

Are there any that are similar.  And similar where the weight is carried in different ways? Relationships…

What is the difference? What is different between the burdens that the world gives you and the burdens that God gives you?

World burdens – stressful, feel obligated – causes more stress, never satisfied, when one is bore, another needs to be added – financial, corporate ladder, keep up with the Jones’, etc.  Life-taking.

God burdens – they are still burdens, they still have weight, but they’re freeing. Feel better when you bear them, in fact you feel lighter. Life-giving.

There is so much to consider with today’s text, but given all that is going on in our society, our world, and our lives, Mary’s demeanor, her response, is a lesson on bearing burdens, and not only bearing burdens, but lifting them up and celebrating them.  Three points to share today.

1. I apologize for the repeat of the setting, but remember the context. Mary a young woman, set to have Joseph as her husband, lives in a very rules based culture. She is visited by an angel and told, “You are going to give birth to God’s son.” Bam. Burden. In a literal sense, she is literally carrying God’s burden. Remember the definition, “a heavy load of things to carry, responsibility, worry” and so the Christ child is the ultimate burden. I mean really, you are carrying God’s Son. Bam. Burden. And so now bearing this burden, Mary returns to Joseph, and he decides he needs to leave Mary in fear of shame (world burden) until he meets an angel who says “Step up boy, this is for real, get your head in the game”. Bam. Burden. And so Mary and Joseph are both burdened by God. And we must remember that the burdens of the world did not disappear. The burdens of the world being the shame both felt and disregarded, burden, the travelling to Bethlethem to take part in the census, burden, and the burden of child birth in a stable. Burden, burden, burden. And yet, do we read about Mary and Joseph’s disregard of God’s burden? Despite Mary’s original question of how is this possible and Joesph’s uncertainty to start, both not only bear God’s burden, but carry it willingly and they still participate AND bear the weight of the world’s burdens. Mary’s words to us in today’s Gospel are not the words of a young woman bearing the weight of the world, but rather words of jubilation, celebration and thankfulness. That’s right, her last words, “52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever”, are they not words of thankfulness? “Thank you Father for lifting us up, filling the hungry, helping, being merciful, and for keeping your promises.” Words of bitterness or thankfulness?  And in the meantime, the burdens are still there, still weighing down. Not only do Mary and Joseph bear the burden God bestowed on them, but they also bore the burdens of the world, all while being willing and thankful.

2. I witnessed something great once. A student and her mother were trying to get out of band, which was not an option at the school I was at – you simply had to take it because nothing else was offered. The mother, speaking for the daughter made a comment about having to take this class. The band teacher turned to the daughter and said something that has continually changed my perspective. He said, “You don’t have to take band. You get to take band.”

We don’t have to, we get to.  The burdens of God are not light. They are not easy, they are not easily borne, there are no straps, no handles to bear His weight. And they ARE burdens. Loving people is not easy. Spreading the Gospel is not easy. Being yourself and being love to a dark world is not easy. These are burdens. But we do not HAVE to bear them. We get to. We get to bear the burdens of God. And although it is easy not to bear them, we will find that when we do bear them as Mary did, all of the other burdens become lighter, and they are no longer life-taking, they are all life-giving. We shall bear them thankfully and sing as Mary sang, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.”  We don’t have to bear Christ the Saviour, for He IS our burden to carry to the world. We get to.

3. I have always wondered about the scripture where Jesus tells Nicodemus that in order to enter the kingdom, Nicodemus needs to be reborn.  At Christmas time, I wonder if it isn’t a little different. I wonder if our rebirth isn’t in connection with Christ’s rebirth, because for me to reborn might not be as important as Christ being reborn, being brought back to our world, being shared again and again every Christmas. And so our prayer might be that every day is the rebirth, essentially that it is Christmas every day.

And so may we bear the burden of the Christ to the world, carry the candle, share the Good News, spread His love and bear Christ to the world. Not because we have to, but because we get to. May you have a Merry Christmas, everyday.

Amen.

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