Come unto me… - July 1st 2020
In the Prison Chapel there is an illuminated picture that is on all the time. It stands right behind the communion table and it’s on 24/7. When the doors are locked and the other lights are switched off and there’s no-one in the Chapel, the light from that picture goes on shining.
It’s a striking image of Jesus with his arms outstretched. Depending on your mood you might think it’s Jesus on the cross, or the Father in one of Jesus’ parables welcoming his wayward son back home, or just a close friend who is there at the right moment. And inscribed on the picture are some words of Jesus that have meant a huge amount to people over the years: Come unto me all you that are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Well, those words figure in the Gospel reading set for today [Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30].
I have often wondered why those words have been so powerful. I suspect it might be their immediacy. The day most people in Jesus’ day thought of as the day of rest was the Sabbath, when they didn’t have to work and when they could find their dignity again. But Jesus was saying Come to me now. You don’t have to wait till next Saturday! There is a rest I can give you now, this moment.
The other thing is what Jesus didn’t say. He didn’t say Come to me.. when you have got your act together, when you have sorted this out, when you have proved yourself, when you have accomplished this or that, or when you have beaten yourself up sufficiently. Nor did he say, Come to me when you are good enough. He just said: Come to me…
Otherwise it would be just one more thing to add to your weariness and the heavy load or yoke on your shoulders. Instead Jesus offered people something different. It was a picture of God worth having. And one no-one has wanted to switch off.
"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Lord, you know the heavy burdens we all carry at times, the worries and anxieties, the guilt and fears. Thank you for having a door that’s always open. Amen.