“A word for the weary” Palm Sunday, March 24th 2024

“A word for the weary” Palm Sunday, March 24th 2024

Introduction.

During the potato famine in Ireland, in the late 1840s, a number of families wrote letters to their landlords saying they had absolutely no money at all to pay their rent and begged to be let off all their debts. The Irish landlord was Canon Robert Faussett born near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

Canon Fausett wrote back to his tenants. He said it was quite impossible to let them off their debts. It would set a bad precedent. They had to pay every single penny.

BUT he wrote.

I enclose something that might help you.

In contrast to so many of the other landlords at the time, he sent a cheque for a very large sum of money – which far more than covered all their debts.

Their hearts must have leapt with joy when they saw that word ‘BUT’ it was truly a word which sustained the weary…

Isaiah 50 is our focus.  The person writing – called the Servant – says:  ‘’The Lord has given me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.

Isaiah 50 is one of the 4 Servant Songs – chapters 42, 49, 50 and 53. Jesus is the Servant par excellence.

Yet Paul, when preaching in Acts 13, says : ‘We are now turning to the Gentiles, for so the Lord has commanded us, saying: ‘I made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ He quotes Isaiah 49.

By doing so, he applies that passage to the church community – We are servants of the Servant King, we are to continue to be about the Servant Kings’ work in the way of the Servant King.  

We do his work, and to do his work in his way.

So what is that work and the way?

What is the Servant called to do?

The servant is called to bring God’s truth and justice to the nation. To be a light to others who do not know.

How the Servant acts.

The Servant will not be someone who snuffs out a smouldering wick, he will not be someone who breaks a bruised reed. These beautiful words applied to Jesus ministry in Matthew 12. Most people, trample down a reed – it cannot be used; a bit of candle wick, we get a new one.

The Servant – Jesus, and by association us – is the one who binds up, heals, supports the bruised.

He does not stub out, he seeks to fan into flame.

Just consider, how in this Holy Week, Peter. By the end of Friday, bruised, the flame is low. Yet on Easter Sunday – as Mark 16 records: The Angel says: ‘He has risen. He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples, and Peter.’ Tell Peter. Healing begins for that bruised, broken person. And over breakfast on that beach in Galillee, Jesus brings that healing fully and fans into flame Peter, as he has done already for the other disciples. 

The Servant is to bring a word, to ‘sustain the weary’.

Someone may ask you – tell me about Jesus?

One description to share…

He is one who says – ‘all you who are weary and heavy laden, come to me and rest’. The one who seeks to heal the broken, who does disregard the vulnerable or damaged or hurt.

The Resources of the Servant

So that he – the Servant – will not be snuffed out or broken himself, due to demands or difficulty or opposition, he has the resources of God.  His resource is that is involved in God’s plan. He knows it is God who sends him – it isn’t his idea.  And He has power through God’s Holy Spirit

What is the work and the way?

As Servants of the Servant King, we are to be about the Servants work, we are to bring his light, his truth, his justice, to others;

we are to bind and heal and to fan into flame;

we are to use and remember the resources we have from God:  it is God who has a plan; we are sent by him; and we have God’s power, for in each of us the Spirit dwells.

I think this is a stretching time for some, maybe many at All Saints.

So many things…

Things in our world wearing us down – wars, world events; one situation close to the hearts of many here at All Saints, is the terrorism and war in Israel and our connections…

The Renovation was demanding and left some tired and needing a break

We have members of our church community ill, Maria, as you know, seriously unwell;

for some of us we have many new tasks we are trying to work out, new rotas, new requests being made, people stepping into new roles…

There are other situations that may be wearing us out…

There is a Bilbo Baggins quote : “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

I like that quote – for at times in the past, those words have summed up how I have felt…

Maybe you can resonate with it… It may be, that some of us here are feeling exactly like that, with all that is going on in our lives…

Isaiah 50,v4

 ‘’The Lord has given me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens me morning by morning. He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.’’.

Job’s friends – called comforters – they had been at their best when they sat silently with Job, almost like the family and friends of a Jew, ‘sitting shiva’ with him, in a time of bereavement. 

A time to speak there must be, as we seek to support those who are weary. 

There is a time to listen to understand the precise nature of someone’s weariness.

But how, to be a sustainer? How to have the right words at this time?

John Goldingay: ‘’The key to his having them, is the fact that the Servants listens for them. The secret is to have a disciples’ tongue, a mouth that speaks what the ears have learned.’’ 

The starting place is in the word: disciple’s tongue.

The Servant has done his learning, he has soaked in the Torah, in the Prophets, in the writings. Soaked in the Scriptures. 

The Servant points us to : Who knows how to sustain the weary?  It is Yahweh. That it had to be what Yahweh taught. 

Jesus modeled this. Jesus said the night before he died – Maundy Thursday : ‘The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.’’ (John 14).

The challenge of the Servant, the challenge of Jesus.  To be taught. So we can sustain the weary.

This naturally asks, about how we use the time we set aside to be with the Lord.

When we come to his word, we grow in a grasp of the truth;

What questions do we ask? What did it mean then? How to apply it today. Important questions.

An additional question –  what am I learning of God in this passage or in NT what am I learning of Jesus, of who he is?  Mark begins – the beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ. The good news is not only about what Jesus said, but also what he did and who he was…

When I read a passage like the Gospel passages you will read this week in our Holy Week Devotionals – what do I learn about Jesus?

A tongue of the disciple knows: what God says, what God does, and who God is…and that helps him or her to sustain the weary.

The second question is about regular time and space with the Lord.

A few months ago, a member of the prayer ministry team felt during the service, that God was giving them a scripture for me. 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

It was bang on, as they say in N.Ireland. But the challenge – Come to me. I had to make a choice. The Lord wants to give me rest, but will I come to him.

I have my quiet time in the morning. But clearly I needed something more and God knew it, where he and I could talk. And so became a pattern which I have generally tried to keep, of going out for a walk – about 30 mins – after lunch and walking around the park and literally talking to Jesus about what is going on. Sometimes it is intercession, sometimes it is me saying I have no idea what to do, sometimes it is bringing things to him for answers etc.

The Servant daily was being taught. Morning by Morning he says.  Focused time.

It is so hard if we grab a few minutes in the word, over breakfast, then into work and that becomes our daily pattern – and we say, God does not speak, I have nothing from my storehouses to give out.

Come to me he says.

But you need to be realistic. Some of you are just hanging in there and fitting in time with God. Be kind to yourself. Pray as you can, not as you can’t. Be realistic.

However be encouraged. The Servant thinks about the word to sustain the weary.

You may be the weary one Jesus seeks to sustain today. The bruised one he seeks to heal. The stub he seeks to fan into flame.

Where in this week – can I set aside some quality time with the Lord.

The Lord seeks to sustain you, the weary.

Or he may want to give you a word to sustain another we know who is weary.

Yet we are in Holy Week.

The Servant is one who accepts affliction as the price of ministry.  The LORD has spoken. The Servant will not draw back or be rebellious. The price for the Servant to be willing and obedient to bring God’s word to the weary, is to feel his enemies lashes on his back, their mockery, their spitting, the physical harm. Jesus chose to enter the city.

He knew what faced him. In Mark, three times he says – the Son of Man, the title he used for himself, would be betrayed, suffer and die, and be raised to life. He knows it is the will of the Father. He has heard his voice. He walks into Jerusalem, with the crowds, declaring he is the Messiah, knowing what it will mean.

Jesus goes in and all he experiences and his suffering on the cross, gives us strength in our suffering. The gospel is that  – Jesus understands – the Word made flesh, he suffered, was mocked, abandoned, betrayed, accused, lied about, had hurtful words spoken about…  our Lord understands because he has experienced much of your pain. And so when we bring our weariness, our pain even our questions we can say – Holy Week reminds me, you know Lord. … there is a word to sustain me.

To finish.

Servant speaks again : ‘’it is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who is he who will condemn me?’’

God does not just send, but he helps. It reminds us, how Jesus draws on daily strength from prayer – he went daily to the Mount of Olives in that Holy Week,. Strength and help came to him as he faced opposition.

As we face challenges, those words reminded you of some words in Romans 8. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.

And what Paul goes on to say, let these words be over us.

We know the work God calls us to, he has a plan,

we have the promise of his power,

and we can be confident in the relationship we have – whether weary, under attack or hanging in there. Jesus was – for in all of this nothing separates us form his love…

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen.

A Prayer for today and for this Holy Week…

Thanks be to you, my Lord Jesus Christ,

for all the benefits which you have won for me,

for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.

O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,

where I am weary, may I hear a word to sustain me today;

where I know someone weary, give me a word for them today.

And in this week, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day; Amen.