“Lightening the Load, Sharing the Joy” Gal. 6:1,2; Ec. 4:9-11
?Lightening the Load, Sharing the Joy? Eccles. 4:9-12; Gal. 6:1-10 10-12-14???? 10-12-14 LMPC by Dr. Ben Sloan
The minister who wrote the benediction we have been using for a while now was Dick Halverson. Dick Halverson was chaplain of the United States Senate, a PCUSA minister, and former pastor of the large Fourth Presbyterian in Washington D.C. ?? One day Dick was flying into Washington DC and the flight in those days went right over Fourth Presbyterian Church and you could also see the monuments and Capitol buildings in the distance. When he looked down to see his church, he could not see it- it was cloudy and blocked. But when he looked further out he saw the buildings of Washington. He thought about the Labor Department where many of his members worked. He thought of those who worked at the White House and Capitol Building, and the sky scrapers of Rossalyn on the Washington skyline and how many of his members worked there. He wrote: I startled the passenger in the next seat by saying out loud, ?Of course! There it is! Fourth Presbyterian Church!? The church in a sense is where the people of God gather. But in another sense it is where the people of God shine as lights in the darkness. It is where the people of God- one body and many parts- bear burdens, lighten the load and share the joy, faith, hope, and love of the Lord. I. LIGHTENING THE LOAD- A burden shared is a burden halved (T.A. Webb). The Creator of all things is the ultimate load bearer. He says, ?Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.? How does Jesus bear our burdens? He lifts up our heads, he lifts up our souls. He is the one who puts a skip in our step. But often times He does it not through angels. He doesn?t lighten our load with a lightning bolt. He often bears our burdens through His body. His body is the church. ???? There is no doubt that the strong are to help the weak in the church. There are times when we really need to help each other, and times when we need to step back. ?? There are two times in this opening paragraph of Galatians 6 in which he talks about burdens. One is bearing one another?s burdens (Bare), and the next he says each person should carry their own pack (phortion- like the word ?portion?). There are some things that no one else can bear for us- we must bear these things ourselves- our own crosses. The idea is to think of ourselves as a military unit. There are times when the load we are carrying needs to be shared and other times when we are to carry our own portion- or pack or personal stuff.?? Each person is responsible for what they were able to do with their own portion in life. But there is a way of looking at others that is important here. We are not to compare ourselves to other people. That leads to envy and covetousness. But we are to look for ways to help other people carry their loads. Take every opportunity to help the family of faith. ???? Psalm 42 asks the great question of despair- ?Why are you downcast O my soul and why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise Him. I remember how I used to go to the house of God singing in the assembly of the righteous.? He remembers those lighter times and they help him. He looks forward to when he is back in the fellowship. ???? Everyone on this side of heaven has a load. Sometimes the load is too much for us. The Fellowship- as the family of God is to step in to help when we start to fall. II. SHARING THE JOY- Our passage speaks about passing on the joy and the good. It says ?let us not grow weary in doing good- but as we have opportunity let us do good to all-especially the family of believers. This is God?s math: A grief shared is a grief divided. A joy shared is multiplied. ?? The Fellowship is not all about dividing burdens. It is also about joy. Christianity is really a faith of joy. Think about the good news of the Christian faith. We have hope. We believe that love is more than just a hormonal or natural reaction- but can be a true and lasting thing.?? We believe there is a loving God who cares for us. That is good news. We believe there is a second chance. We believe there is more to life than just 70 or 80 years. We also believe there are directions and purpose that guide us in life. Jesus said that he came to give us the abundant life. ???? Last year thee was a TED talk that was written more fully in Psychology Today (July 2013 edition by Emma M. Seppala). It talked about the science of finding joy in sharing joy. It showed study after study that confirmed that when we are joyful, it makes those around us three times more likely to be joyful too. So if you think that trying to be positive or joyful is selfish, then think again- it helps others for you to be joyful. This compliments what Paul says, ?Rejoice in the Lord always and again I saw rejoice.? ???? A number of studies speak of making daily lists of what we are grateful for- like the old hymn ?Count your many blessings? is a big help in increasing our satisfaction with life, and our ability to be kind and generous with our lives. But one thing that keeps us from focusing on the negative is to tell other people about what we are joyful about. We have tidings of comfort and joy- that we need to tell the world. There are some who think it is only proper to complain and fuss. That to talk about the good we experience is somehow bragging or boasting. Reformed Christians are aware if we experience good and blessing it is not because we deserve it or earned it- but it is from God?s shear grace and mercy. When God blesses us- I am not just talking about material blessings, we should rejoice in that. We say we believe in prayer, but if we never share that God answered our prayer and we believe in that answer, what encouragement do we have to pray some more? ?We are called to Sing- and let others here! To share! Wherever we are. ?? There is a great story in the Bible (recorded in 1 Kings 6,7) about a time when the Syrian army besieged the capital city of Israel. There was a terrible famine- the price of food skyrocketed and people were starving to death. Finally four lepers decided to go out and surrender to the Syrians. They discovered that in God?s grace and help and just as the prophet had said, the army became afraid and ran away leaving all their food and goods in the camp. The lepers feasted. But then they said, ?What are we doing? We need to share the joy! They told the city and there was a stampede going out to the food- the lepers saved others by spreading the good news. Good news is worth spreading. In the church we have something to sing about- some joy to spread- to lighten the load and share the joy. ?Two are better than one- I believe we will be getting a new interim It will share the burden and lighten the load for me as pastor. But what is true for ministerial staff is also true for the folks in the pew- when we have help- it lightens the load and spreads the weight of the burdens. The ultimate help we have is not just from each other- but from our greatest friend- our great burden sharer and the one who lightens our load- Jesus Christ. You do not live your life all by yourself. Jesus is our Rock, our helper, our strength- we are not all on our own in the universe. He invites us to come to Him- to place our burdens down into His hands, and to let Him lighten your load today.