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Work for Good

Stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122:1-9; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44

Sermon Week First Sunday of Advent Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 24:44

The Dean of the Duke University Chapel has written a book on “burnout,” particularly among the clergy. He interviewed scores of pastors who had called it quits because, in their own minds, they had burned out. They complained of being overburdened by their work ... stressed out ... crushed by the demands of the job. The author commented:

After talking with many of those who claimed to have burned out, and with counselors who had tried to help them, I decided that sometimes we feel burned out, not because we have too much to do, but because we have too much which is meaningless and unimportant to do. Life’s greatest burden is not in having too much to do (some of the happiest people I know are the busiest) but in having nothing worthwhile to do. Energy is a renewable resource. Good work appears to produce more energy to do more good work. People burn out, from what I observe, not because they have too much to do but because they become exhausted by constant engagement with the trivial and the inconsequential.

So, the issue before us cannot be whether we shall be burdened, but what shall we be burdened with? Is the work we do, work for good?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome" is a figure of speech drawn from the laboring people of Jesus' time -- hardworking slaves and farmers who were bent low for long hours at a time by the heavy burdens they carried on their backs. And it comes to us, in the eleventh chapter of Matthew's Gospel as a symbol of the heavy burdens we are asked to carry in this life -- physical, emotional, and spiritual. Matthew reminds us that not a single burden of any person is bypassed by Jesus' invitation.

Everyone with cancer, arthritis, migraine headaches or physical disability is included.

Everyone who dreads the dawning of a new day, or is depressed or is bent low with guilt over some past event is included.

Everyone who is overwhelmed with anxiety about the future is included.

Everyone [...]

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