Please visit the News page for an important statement from the national URC about the Black Lives Matter agenda.
In the light of the current COVID-19 (Corona Virus) outbreak, we regret that activities at the church – including worshipping in the building – continue to be temporarily suspended. However, we ARE still worshipping!
Please check with activity organisers / check the church website for updates via the NEWS page [for Covid-19 community support updates], the diary and the COVID-19 AND CHURCH page [for church-related information]. The COMMUNITY page contains suggestions for activities and educational links to support families during the period of social isolation (‘Lockdown’)
The Covid-19 and the church page also has information about opportunities to share in worship online during the suspension of Sunday worship in our building.
Bill produces a weekly podcast which can be accessed HERE: https://revdbill.uk/worship-material
Debbie hosts a regular Sunday phone-in act of worship at 11.15 am. Call 0330 606 0403. You will be asked for an access code, which is 442786#. To improve the sound quality for all, where possible, please mute your phone except during times of greeting and other shared sections.
A link to the URC’s daily reflection webpage can be found near the bottom of this page.
A reading from those set for 05/07/2020
Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30
16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
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.”
So, what are these two sections telling us?
“Nothing I do is ever enough!” Have you ever heard someone say that? Have you ever said that or thought that yourself? Sometimes, no matter how much we do, how much we say, how much we pay, how much we save, how much we exercise, etc, it just never seems to be enough. Jesus knows how we feel, because he went through the same thing here on earth.
Jesus wasn’t the first person that the Pharisees didn’t accept. Like Jesus, John the Baptist was seen as someone other than who he really was. He was seen as a demon-possessed lunatic, and Jesus was seen as a glutton. John’s austerity in dress and food underlined the severity of his message. Jesus, on the other hand, went to where the people were, where joys and sorrows played out in families, towns and cities. The people of John’s and Jesus’ time rejected God by rejecting his messengers; neither approach pleased them, because neither man fitted into their mould, so those people lodged contradictory complaints. In both cases, the wisdom of the courses of action of both men was proved only by the results. In other words, the ends justified the means.
We often want the Jesus WE want, when WE want him. The people in Jesus’ time were the same, and he was frustrated by this. The problem for those who reject Jesus is their awareness that taking John the Baptist and Jesus seriously has always required people to change their lives.
The elite did not accept John the Baptist or Jesus – the poor did. The same situation exists today. There are those who think that they are so high in society that they don’t need God. Then there are those who are so downtrodden and suppressed by society that they eagerly accept Jesus’ teachings.
in this passage, Jesus is contrasting Man’s Law with God’s Law. Man’s Law was formed as the result of the Ten Commandments which God gave to the Jewish people to guide them through the moral traps of life, but well-intentioned people added on to the law until it became its own trap. The common person did not stand a chance of perfectly observing the law. All of these rules and regulations were a huge burden on the people.
Jesus came along and said to the Pharisees, “Look, you don’t need all of these man-made rules and regulations. The Ten Commandments are rules for how people are to live their lives and treat their fellow man. They are not meant to be a spiritual strait-jacket, but you, with your rules and regulations and determination to obey the letter of the Ten Commandments, have forgotten about the spirit of the Ten Commandments.” He went a step further and replaced all of these laws with the two Great Commandments – love God and love people. In effect he told the Pharisees, “Look at how much easier and less demanding the Great Commandments are. If people obey these two commandments, they will form the basis for how people live their lives.”
You may have seen pictures of oxen that are harnessed together by a yoke. They share the burden and work together so that one doesn’t have to do all of the work or shoulder the entire burden. Did you know that oxen are trained for a specific position in the yoke, so when they are put in the other position, they refuse to move? They know their role.
When Jesus tells us to take his yoke, he is inviting us to submit to his authority, to know our role. If we submit to him, he will give us rest by sharing our burdens. Jesus is asking us to let him be in control of our lives so that he can share the load. He wants to guide and direct our lives. As an old saying goes, he wants us to “let go and let God”.
Jesus lived enough days on this earth to experience weariness – in body, mind, spirit and heart. Weariness can come in all forms and can last a long time. Some weariness moves into depression and despair. Thus, for Jesus to extend rest for the weary, he is giving hope to those who are burdened.
Jesus promises to give us rest when we find our rest in him. He is our burden-bearer. When we turn the circumstances of our lives over to him, he lifts us up and infuses our hearts with fresh hope and wisdom. Some situations are just too difficult for us to handle, but nothing is too great for God.
The Pharisees’ rules were a burden in their time, just like rules can be in our time. If you don’t have every single “I” dotted and every single “T” crossed, dealing with the government can be a heavy burden. Not walking in step with the establishment is hard work and can be dangerous, but it can be done, and has been done in the past by people such as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa.
The world’s way of lightening burdens has always involved transferring the burden to the scapegoat, usually the poor. God hears our cries and can understand the difference between cries of pain, hurt, anger, frustration, joy and deep need. He longs to hold us while we cry, showing immeasurable love through his powerful embrace. God will bring strength out of brokenness. He releases us from the bondage of having to prove our worth. We can live freely and lightly. He will never give us more than we can bear.
It is easy for us to get caught up in a “hurry-worry syndrome”- doing too much, eating too quickly, and juggling too many things. It all seems important at the time, but later we realise that much was done at the expense of cultivating deeper and meaningful relationships with those we love the most. Being held hostage by the tyranny of the urgent is not how we were meant to live.
Most of us go through life with burdens that weigh heavily on us. We know the meaning of stress. Regardless of what our burdens are, Jesus wants to come alongside us and heal us. He wants to properly clean the wounds of our lives. It will take time and it won’t be easy, but if we keep ourselves yoked with Jesus we will be healed. And when we are healed, we will experience the love, peace, hope and rest that Jesus can bring.
Jesus’ ‘easy yoke’ is not an invitation to an easy, carefree life, but it is deliverance from the man-made burdens of trying to follow complicated and man-made rules of faith (and everyday life) that can distract from the key focus of loving God and loving others. These burdens can lead to feelings of guilt and a sense of sin, with side effects such as depression, anxiety, fear and doubt. If we accept the rest Jesus offers, all we have to do is accept his teachings and the obligations they bring. He invites us to treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
As we come together to worship each week in all sorts of ways at the moment, we can let go of the heavy yokes of this world and take up the blessed yoke that is no burden, the yoke of acceptance of our own beloved self in Christ, the yoke of acceptance of the beloved nature of other weary, heavy-laden ones still striving all around us.
If you are self-isolating, or in any way affected by the closure (weddings, baptisms), please let one of the elders (or our ministers, Debbie and Bill) know, so that the church can keep in touch.
Looking for some quiet reflection? Try the link below!
It will take you to a page which presents bible readings with gentle music accompanying.
Welcome to our church website
Through these pages we hope to give you an insight into our church community. If you would like to come along in person, we’d love to meet you!
We have a Sunday morning service every week, at 10.30am. Everyone is welcome, and if it’s your first visit – do please introduce yourself.
There is an evening Communion service at 6.30pm on the third Sunday in the month, which is organised by a small group of our members and often based around music and words from the Iona Community. More details of these services and other activities are available in the Services and Diary sections of our website.
Please click on the links to find out more about us, and to see what’s going on, visit our Diary section! Building access information is available here. You can also contact us via email, details are on the Contact Us section of our website.
Our Facebook page can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/Holyhead-Road-United-Reformed-Church-151789941574498/
Where are we?
Use this link to Google maps for location and directions:
Looking for ready-made daily devotions each day? https://devotions.urc.org.uk/
A prayer for those visiting our website
Almighty and eternal God,
who created us in your own image and gave us the will to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful, especially in the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
we give you thanks for the freedom of communication.
Grant, we pray you, that through our journeys in this website we may be led to charity, prayer, patience and greater understanding of each other and that we may discern more closely your will for your pilgrims here on earth.
To the glory of the Word made flesh,