In preparing for the sermon this week I am reminded of a story of a young man who was fascinated with the world. This man was always interested and moved close enough to his job so that he could walk there and enjoy the world he lived in. Being inquisitive and aware he looked at everything he passed by and tried to look at everything as if it were new every day. Then one day on his walk he found a pebble on the sidewalk that was unlike any pebble he had ever seen before. It has blues and reds and even some yellow, so he put it in his work bag and kept walking.
Inspired by that one pebble he kept his eye out for more unique treasures and almost every day he added another. While he loved these treasures that he kept in his bag, it was like most things that went into his bag, they went in, but never came out.
One day when he was especially tired, and the walk was just arduous. He was starting to curse his decision to move so close to work that the only option was to walk. He stopped looking around and found no pleasure in his walk any more. Then there was that bag, heavy and overstuffed with papers and electronics, he had actually forgotten about his little treasures that now filled the bottom of his bag. When he got to his office, he emptied the bag and there was a pile of dirty pebbles and other treasures. Individually they were neat, but as a group they were just a bunch of dirty pebbles.
He could not help but laugh at this “heavy bag” that he had made heavier because he could not let go of something that might have been special but not really worth the extra burden. Then he thought about why he was so tired and realized that he had been carrying too many burdens in his life, things that hung around, which he had never dealt with most of which, he could just let go. And he did just that. As he walked home that day he took his pebbles and carefully set each down, a burden he was letting go of. By the time he got home his bag was empty of everything but his computer. He smiled and realized that he had more energy than he had in months.
He also began to enjoy his walks to and from work again. Yes, he would stop and appreciate what he saw, but every time he picked up a pebble he would take a moment and appreciate it, then he always would, set it back down and say a little prayer.
Getting rid of your burdens is not about forgetting or hiding them. What the man realized was that he had to name them and let them go. Jesus did the same. In Luke 4:14-37, the writer is directly addressing burdens as Jesus makes his way home to a reception that is all but welcoming. Jesus knew he had to go, so as to not be burdened by not fulfilling his call, but also to let them know how important it was to let go and follow God.
Of course, their response was to not only throw him out of town but also take him to his death at that very moment. He got away and made his way to Capernaum to share the message. It was a different kind of message then they had heard before. It was kind and uplifting. But when a possessed man began to badger Christ, Christ saw the burden inside the man which they understood to be a demon, and He cast the demon out.
There is so much that burdens people and regardless of where you are in life, you have a burden. For some it is medical, others financial, and others social. Many are burdened with frustration over the state of the world and others still burdened by the questions of their faith. The thing about burdens is they weigh us down. They keep us from living the best we can and often get in the way of relationship.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen