Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the blessed Savior to whom we surrender all, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
If someone asks you to surrender what does that mean? What feelings does this word “surrender” evoke? Depending on your age and life experience the word “surrender” connotes different images. For some the act of surrendering is a “giving up”; for others surrendering may be an act of giving in. Sometimes surrendering is part of negotiations towards a better in. For most people I dare to guess that the act of surrendering is an act of loss. As parents we may find ourselves surrendering our will to our children’s will on difficult issues; anything from bed time to life styles. As couples we may find ourselves surrendering our will to our mate on anything from what t have for dinner to which state to relocate to for new jobs. The act of surrendering to something is always with us in the human condition. How we handle that act of surrendering determines how we adjust to the outcome. So it is in today’s gospel text.
Judson W. Van De Venter, a hymn writer from the late 1800’s taps into the Christian experienced of surrendering to God in his hymn “I Surrender All”... the hymn refrain is appropriate for today passage from Matthew:
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Savoir, I surrender all.
We read the invitation to discipleship in today’s text; an invitation what comes in verses 28 – 30. To accept this invitation, surrendering is necessary.
Jesus begins today’s reading by summarizing the different stages of Jesus and John the Baptist use to call people to discipleship. Both carry messages, both call the followers to discipleship, to a surrendering of old ways for a new walk with God. The message of Jesus and John are threats to our human desire for autonomy, our lust for control, our instinctive desires to get, keep and win in this life our under our terms. We want the future we dream of, plan for, and hope for. We chafe under John’s unapologetic insistence that our surrender to God is at hand for each of us. We must examine our hearts, let God burn away the chaff and surrender our all to God’s future for us as disciples holding on to only that which God says we need.
Jesus can rub us the wrong way as well. Far more gentle then John but equally as irrational, Jesus calls us to carry his yoke, following him, drop and leave our nets and become his disciples; another hard message of surrender. Can’ we just find a happy medium?
This week I caught a few minutes of a movie during its dramatic climax at which time a popular rock sung was playing and carries an interesting tie to today’s text. As significant as W. Van De Venter’s “I Surrender All” is to some listening ears, I think that the refrain of this rock song works for other generations.You can’t always get what you want.
You can’t always get what you want,
No, you can’t always get what you want….
But if you try real hard…you get what you need.
…..and don’t we WANT everything! To our mental, emotional and spiritual depletions instead to surrendering our wills, our lives to the Almighty God of the cross, the one who has secured for all humans for all time total and complete salvation we hold back too busy working on getting what we think we want.. Perhaps, just perhaps in surrendering all……we will get what we need.
This brings us to the promises of discipleship which we will realize as we surrender to God’s will, God’s way, God’s teaching.
“Come to me all you that are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest form your souls.”
All to thee my blessed savior – I surrender all and “I get what I need” living out our lives in surrendering as an act of faith, an act of dreaming with God for humankind.
What does it take for us to surrender, get what we truly need and dream of a world to God’s glory? Today we are invited to discipleship, pushed to think more deeply as individuals and as a community of God carrying his burden and his love. How much are we willing to surrender to get what we need?
Today’s message calls us to a new relationship with the word SURRENDER as seen in a relationship with Jesus. An invitation has been extended. Come, share the good news with both its demands and comfort for his yoke is easy and his burden is light….thanks be to God!