Come to me, all you who are weary...

Since Thanksgiving of 2003 I have generally had a regular gig pastoring or preaching somewhere on a Sunday morning. I did the math and that’s almost 1,100 Sundays; minus a few for vacations and illness. 

I love preaching, don’t get me wrong. I like the regular exercise of what may seem like a strange muscle. I use my professional responsibility of spoken ministry as a personal spiritual practice of attention. 

On February 18, I found myself sitting on the pastor’s left-hand side in a familiarly-styled pew about halfway up the center aisle with the good folks at White Plains Friends Meeting, in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Having arrived a little early, there was opportunity to watch and witness as folks entered the sanctuary, finding their places, seeing familiar faces, and recognizing unfamiliar faces. There were warm greetings of welcome and the exchange of a customary, “It’s good to be here.” I felt the welcome deeply and it was indeed good for me to be there. 

In 2022, on an FUM Living Letters trip to Cuba, there was a pastor’s retreat for the pastors of Cuba Yearly Meeting. The pastors were listened to, their lives and their ministries were prayed over, and I had the opportunity to preach a sermon as a part of the retreat. One of the closing comments in the midst of the goodbyes was a thank you for preaching, praying, and ministering. One of the pastors said, “As pastors, no one preaches and teaches to us, no one prays for us; we are not always ministered to the way you all have done. It is so good to receive these things.” I heard him say this and I appreciated the thanks for my small part in that care and nurture for the men and women who are pastors in Cuba Yearly Meeting, mis hermanos y hermanas. 

It wasn’t until that Sunday in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, that I really felt those words deeply in my heart. I sat in my pew at White Plains and I received the ministry offered that morning. Worship began with everyone singing the doxology, praising God from whom all blessings flow. The sermon came from Matthew 5, the Beatitudes. Pastor Dusty Ball delivered a message about the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the merciful, and those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, bathing it all in grace and mercy. I took away an encouragement for steadfastness as we hunger and thirst after righteousness…inviting this hunger to never be satisfied. 

Many caregivers, healers, and pastors have given sacrificially of themselves, their hearts, their energy, their time, and their bodies. These people carry so much of their community with them. Even when given a respite and not responsible for all aspects of the worship, hands are still so full we are unable to receive the blessing laid out before us. 

I lived this passage from Matthew 11:28-30 that morning at White Plains Friends Meeting. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” I could set down my own cares and concerns. I could set down the cares and concerns of each individual in my Meeting—all of their pain, struggles, and joys—and be with the leading of the Holy Spirit in the presence of God. For that I am truly thankful. 

~Michael Sherman

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