Many assert that the faith community should just stay home, dealing only with the souls of its collected sheep, not saying a word that the sheep might be hungry, have severe medical problems or no warm place to sleep or that some might be expelled from the barn because a few are not totally white.
The very essence of the Judeo/Christian tradition is a belief in a God who acts, who cares about us, who is present, who has confirmed us in love and has commissioned us to act – “Partners in creation” is the Jewish framing. This is not the Greek notion, namely that as believers we are given a piece of the life of God, a privileged experience far above human toils and tribulations, like the Greek gods frolicking on Olympus, living above the burdens, cares and worries of human life.
This is not the Hebrew/Christian perspective. Here blessing means involvement and finding the correct path. This is what blessing means: it has nothing to do with the promise that you can transcend the cares of the world. Our path can get muddy. We can get hurt, disappointed, defeated. But only through involvement and engagement in the world, not separation, do we find blessing—not above, through.
Purpose offers a curious freedom. We’re told in the Christian tradition that his “yoke is easy.” Yoke “easy?” Well, it’s not easy because it’s not stress free; it’s not easy because it’s not hard. It’s easy because it fits. Real freedom is not found by doing less, but by doing what fits.
The prophet Isaiah echoes this beautifully, urging us to “let the oppressed go free…share your bread with the hungry…bring the homeless poor into your house…cover the naked,” because, Isaiah continues rhapsodically, “You shall be like a spring of water/whose waters fail not/And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt/you shall raise up the foundations of many generations/you shall be called the repairer of the breach/the restorer of the streets to dwell in.”
Many have heard Isaiah’s uplifting message brought home in Handel’s soaring Messiah, Chorus 21 – “His yoke is easy; His burden is light.”
As you enter the new year, may your burden be “light”, as you help lighten the burden of others.
Jack Calhoun, 12/30/2018