4th Sunday after Trinity, 5th July 2020
“…..and learn from me…”
“…..and learn from me…” words that have stuck in my mind over these past few days and caused me to think of teachers and teaching.
Teaching has taken a lot of criticism over the years, differing teaching methods seem to be blamed for all sorts of things, from:
• failing / falling literacy rates,
• respect levels in society,
• the increase of verbal and physical violence,
• and, any other ill will that is prevalent.
Which is when you think about it quite depressing, a while ago a group of researchers set about trying to alleviate this idea and asking a number of famous people for the names of any teacher that had inspired them.
The result was astonishing, each and every famous person had at least one or two names of teachers who had influenced their lives and changed their futures. Sometimes it was their academic gifts, but more likely it was the teachers ability to inspire their pupils, to give them a special something which spurred them on to achieve their very best, even to reach heights previously unimagined.
Think for a moment, who were your inspirational teachers?
No one can overestimate the influences of a good teacher. Even if we cannot remember a thing they actually taught us, good teachers will be remembered with fondness long after their words have been forgotten. That is because people are more important than words. Qualities like kindness and generosity are always more enduring than principles or rules, and integrity is more infectious than dogma.
In todays Gospel, Jesus offers himself as a teacher: “Learn from me”, he says. At this point in his ministry Jesus has had to face up to being rejected by the religious hierarchy and the ‘wise’ people of his time.
His message found no place in their hearts, becoming experts in the law had prevented them from recognising the coming of God’s Messiah, the coming of God’s Kingdom.
Instead, Jesus found a ready audience among the people considered social outcasts. The tax collectors and sinners, those unable to keep the law in all its rigour. They all welcomed Jesus’ message and the hope it brought.
Unfortunately, or perhaps not? the so called experts were so preoccupied with keeping the externals of the law they had lost sight of its purpose, to lead people to God. Indeed as I have said on many occasions these experts of the law had created a further 613 laws so that people could keep the 10 commandments more easily.
Does this sound familiar?
No wonder Jesus says “Come to me, all you that are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”
“Come to me.” - Come to me and follow me, rather than rules and regulations devised by religious, political leaders.
Jesus offered a different “yoke,” a simpler one. We don’t have to worry about hundreds of laws, or keeping the minutiae of rules and regulations.
Jesus offers himself as a model to follow. He alone is the way to God. Follow him and we will find God.
Like a good teacher, the lasting impression he /she makes reside in who they are, more than what they say.
Jesus asks us to be like him, to be gentle and to acknowledge our need for God.
Can you do that? - in these moments; offer yourselves to God - place your life into his hands, give him the freedom to come into it and shape it and allow his Holy Spirit to breathe within you.
You know, we read time and time again in the gospel stories and even in more contemporary stories, that when someone asks God into their space, into their lives, then that is the defining moment; like the tax collectors and sinners of old when we admit our dependence on God, then we are able to receive his mercy and grace.
And like them we experience God’s love and mercy, not just mindless obedience, but by meeting a person: Jesus, God’s own Son, face to face.
Jesus says his burden is light.
We can be burdened with all sorts of things; laws, rules, guidance, even from the best of friends who often say let me have “a kind word in your shell like!”
Today and every day I am confident that Jesus wants you to experience his yoke, that is easy and is full of gentleness and humility. Jesus yoke is ‘well fitting’, tailor made to suit you. Because the task is simple - be yourself!
Be the person God wants you to be, let Jesus be your teacher, be gentle, with yourself and others.
Be humble, acknowledge your need for God, let him into your story, your life, allow him time and space to change you from within, follow the prompting of His Spirit within you, allow him to give you rest.