A wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plough or cart that they are to pull

Romans 7:15-25a
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

I love cartoons, and the reading from Romans puts me in mind of those ones where the character is tempted to do something they shouldn’t.

For example Tom and Jerry, Jerry wants to creep up behind Tom and stick a big pin into his bottom.

So we see Jerry standing there with a little ‘mouse devil’ on one shoulder and a little ‘mouse angel’ on the other. The little ‘mouse devil’ goes “go on do it it’s ok”, and the little ‘mouse angel’ goes “you really should not do that you know”

…and we know the outcome, the little ‘mouse devil’ and his advice always wins!

But, truly, that reading and the cartoon reflect reality, we may want to be good but it is hard. AND as a consequence of our choices and the vagaries of life things do go wrong, we get stressed, frustrated, angry, upset, we feel ignored, abandoned, unequal to life’s challenges, life is just unfair!!!!!!! And sometimes that burden is so great that we sink and loose hope or direction.

Which brings me to the reading from Matthew, a yoke!

In agricultural terms a yoke was a wooden crosspiece, at it’s most basic it was a wooden pole that was fastened over the necks of two animals such as oxen, so side by side, they could provide the power to pull a cart or plough or similar. One animal on it’s own was not powerful enough and, placed in a double yoke, would have been literally¬†unequal to the task.

But put another animal in, even if it was purely in training, and the work, the load, for each was halved. The animals work as a team.

This is what Jesus is offering us. Not a yoke that brings burden and servitude, but a yoke that can help us work as a team with Jesus, ….. ….. A yoke that negates the saying that The Devil always wins!

Jesus waits under the yoke for us to join him.

To be attached beside him, so that he can get to work alongside us in our lives, to enable us all to become a better Team … … If we pull together then Jesus takes half the load!

And you know what!

God is gently and effectively leading that Team, he stands with it holding the guiding reins and encouraging it, so that as we work as his Team we can sow seeds that may sprout and grow and flourish as God’s love in other people’s lives, as well as strengthening our own.

What does that all mean for us?

It means we are joined to him, he is beside us. And in helping us and lightening our load we are made able to help God with his ploughing and tilling and sowing and harvesting.

Jesus says: “Take My yoke on your shoulders and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Sermon by Tracy Williams on Sunday 9th July 2017