Der Vasken’s Sermon on June 2, 2024

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened and you will find rest for your souls.”

I have read these words from the Bible every Sunday for nearly thirty years as a priest of the Armenian Church, but tomorrow morning I will drive to our sister parish in the City of Springfield to read them at a funeral for a father and daughter.

I was contacted last Monday night by a member of this family—a family I have known well over the years and given the tragic news. To be honest, I have felt dazed and shocked ever since. We all know that I had the honor of pastoring the Springfield church for five years when I was first ordained and ever since, have kept those relationships close to my heart. So, when illness struck one of their families taking the lives of two family members within one day of each other, I heard the words of the quote I began with for the better part of the past week as they played over and over again in my heart and mind.

I have felt weary and heavy burdened over the loss of two very dear people and I hear the voice of the wife and mother of this devastated family. I think about what she must be going through. It’s a heavy burden and the grief and sadness would wear anyone down.

This is what today’s Gospel reading speaks about–feeling weary while carrying heavy burdens.
We have all experienced life’s joys and happiness, but life also “hands us” days where we feel weary and heavy burdened. God understands that. He feels our pain. He feels our burdens. He knows that from time to time we will grow weary. So in the Gospel of St. Matthew (11:28-29), He invites all of us who are looking for relief to turn to Him.

This is an invitation that is offered to anyone who labors, who is weary, who is burdened, to seek Him out because He knows that this world has the ability to wear us down and often times drain the spirit out of us.

Sometimes in life we feel overwhelmed by our burdens and all that is on our plate, but He tells us to come to Him during those times, to walk with Him and to share our worries and concerns with Him—to literally be our true selves before Him.

No matter what we are going through, we have the promise from God Himself that we will be given “rest” for what troubles our heart. Time has proven to me that I feel most weary when I try to carry my burdens by myself, but life has a way of teaching us that if we bring our burdens to God, if we share with Him what weighs on our heart, He will give us the strength we need to keep moving forward and to keep hoping because our souls only find true rest when we place our hope in Him.

I think that is what so many people are looking for whenever they feel burdened and weary. God will give us rest in a way that vacations and sleeping in or a good nap will never be able to give us. The type of rest He offers enables us to carry on with life. Soon, we will enter the summer season. It is the perfect time to ask yourself: “In what way am I weary or burdened?” May we all find time to sit with God and let Him fill your heart with “rest” as only He can. “In what way are you weary and burdened?”

Something for all of us to think about.

Amen.

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