I will give you rest

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Greetings, Fighter.

These words of Jesus are referred to in the Anglican liturgy as the ‘words of assurance’ and I read them every week when I invite you to join me in the Eucharist. They are amongst my favourite words in the entirety of Scripture, and I don’t think it’s any great mystery as to why this promise of rest resonates so deeply with so many of us. We are all exhausted!

Years ago, I remember reading about Tattoo the basset hound, who unfortunately got his leash caught around the bumper-bar of his owner’s car, such that when the car drove off, Tattoo was taken on a hectic spin around town that involved a fair bit of dragging and rolling as well as a lot of running. The line I remember was from Constable Terry Filbert, who eventually pulled the driver over and rescued the exhausted dog. He said, “The little fella was just pickin’ em up and puttin’ ‘em down as fast as he could”. I think that sums it up for many of us. For a long time now we’ve been pickin’ ‘em up and puttin’ ‘em down just as fast as we can, but we still find ourselves hitting the ground and rolling about while we desperately try to keep up!

Why is it that we all work so hard? I remember when I was in High School, my teachers said that, long before I reached the age I am now, we’d all be working only two or three days per week. With all the wonderful advances in technology that were taking place in the 70’s, the future indeed looked bright and leisurely. Between then and now, technology has advanced far further than any of us expected. Even so, it seems we’re working harder now than ever! Whatever the explanation, the promise of Jesus is clear. All we who labour and are heavy-laden will be given rest, It’s a great promise. The problem is that it’s not the only thing Jesus promises.

“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.” (Matthew 11:29).

It’s the very next thing Jesus says, though it’s left out of the more recent editions of the Anglican Eucharistic liturgy, most likely due to the reference to the yoke. A yoke is what you put around the necks of farm animals to help them work your field. Martin Luther didn’t miss the irony. “Only Jesus”, said Luther, “would invite the heavy-laden to take on another yoke”.

I believe the key here is to recognise that Jesus isn’t offering us an additional yoke. He’s offering us an alternate one. So many of the things we stress about are trivial, and I am as guilty of this as everyone else. I’m always stressing about finances. I fear going bankrupt, which could lead to me being relieved of my holy orders. I worry about what people would think of me then. I stress about a whole variety of things where I know I should be trusting rather than stressing. Even though my experience confirms what the Scripture tells me – that my Heavenly Father has my back – I continue to waste time and energy carrying these unnecessary burdens.

Jesus promises us a different yoke. Instead of worrying about ourselves, Jesus gives us a burden for those who are truly in need. He gives us a heart for the sick, the imprisoned, the lonely and the destitute. Jesus doesn’t offer us a stress-free life. Instead, we get to stress about things that are worth stressing about, and this burden, Jesus says, is (relatively) light.

The other notable thing about yokes is that they are not normally things you bear on your own. You put a yoke around an animal’s neck to help it work, but the animal normally has a companion yoked in alongside it. The ‘yoke of Jesus’, as I envisage it, is not simply the yoke that Jesus passes on to us, but rather the yoke that Jesus shares with us as He allows us to bear some of the weight that is on His shoulders.

“Come to me, all you that labour and are heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28)

Let us come to Jesus with our unnecessary burdens – with our fears for our safety, for wealth, health, and reputation. Let us bring all our useless burdens to the feet of Jesus and leave them there, and then shoulder the yoke that Jesus gives us, and take on burdens that are worth bearing, experience pain that is worth suffering, and a cross that is worth carrying!

For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29)

Our Sunday Eucharist

We had a very special time together at last Sunday’s Eucharist. As ever, Dave Baldwin and I benefited enormously from the input of our Muslim brother, Tom Toby. Moreover, Tom accidentally invited a friend on to the panel – Mahmoud Hijazi – and we were able to benefit from some of his amazing poetry during our closing minutes.

It really was an accident. Tom had meant to give Mahmoud the link to view the livestream but mixed it up with the link for guests on the panel. On reflection, it was providential. Make sure you watch the end of last Sunday’s broadcast (below) even if you have to skip some of the other segments.

This week we’re privileged to have Father Mark Battison back with us, along with Andrew Logan who is covering for Robert Gilland who can’t be with us this week (thank you, Andrew). Joel Jammal will complete the team with a pre-recorded homily on Romans 7 – that passage where Saint Paul gives his tortured soliloquy, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Romans 7:19).

Tune in from around 11.45 am on Sunday via thesundayeucharist.com or via Facebook , YouTubeTwitter or LinkedIn.

Let me work your corner

Thank you once again to all of you who support Fighting Fathers Ministries through your prayers and through monthly financial contributions. If you’re not contributing financially and you can afford to, it would be greatly appreciated if you could go to Patreon.com. and sign up to either:

Middleweight – $10/month (community mentoring)
  • Enrol in the Fighting Fit training program
  • Access member-only training videos
  • Engage in the members-only forum (see below)
Super-Middleweight $50/month (remote mentoring)
  • All of the above +
  • One-on-one mentoring via email, phone, or Skype
Heavyweight – $100/month (in-person mentoring)
  • All of the above +
  • Unlimited training at Father Dave’s Old School Boxing Academy
Superheavyweight – $200/month (intensive in-person mentoring)

Every dollar helps keep the wheels turning – the websites, the newsletters, the broadcasts, the boxing club and the bush camp. Sign up at Patreon.com.

What’s On?

  • Saturday, July 8th – Boxing from 3.00 pm @Fight Lab
  • Sunday, July 9nd – Our Eucharist from midday via thesundayeucharist.com or via Facebook , YouTubeTwitter or LinkedIn.
  • Tuesday, July 11th – Boxing from 6.30 pm @Fight Lab
  • Thursday, July 13th – Boxing from 6.30 pm @Fight Lab
  • Friday, July 14th to Sunday, July 16th – @Binacrombi  for another wild weekend. Join me!
  • Friday, July 28th – Father Dave vs. Jason Naylor @Conca D’oror, Riverwood

A few things before I leave you today:

Firstly, I believe my fight with Jason Naylor is on for July 28 but I still don’t have the info regarding tickets etc. I’m really keen to have as many of you guys there as possible to support me, so I might send you an extra email during the week when I get the details. This fight is very important to me and could have significant ramifications for the Fighting Fathers community as a whole.

Secondly, I wanted to share a few links to things that might interest you:

Finally, I want to give you a brief report on the big meeting we had last weekend at Binacrombi . It was dramatic and stressful, but very productive. Twenty people were invited. Ten said they were coming. Five showed up. Even so, of those five, Joy and I left two of them in charge when we returned to Sydney!

My heartfelt thanks to God, and to Peter and Pauline Trama, who have now taken on the role as Binacrombi  new site managers. Peter and Pauline were with us ten years ago and did an amazing job then, most especially with at-risk young people. They are a deeply spiritual couple with a real heart for vulnerable people, and they manage to combine that passion with an amazing level of practical wisdom in all areas of farm management. It’s a rare combination of talents indeed. I am deeply thankful to God to have them back on the team.

The other decision made last weekend was to start a ‘Friends of Binacrombi’ group who commit to put in some work and/or contribute a fixed amount of money each month to help us maintain and develop Binacrombi ’s infrastructure, in return for which they get priority access and accommodation. The bigger issue of who will own Binacrombi  moving forward remains unresolved, though I plan to organise another meeting over the next month or so to see if we can find some more investors.

Yes, it was a big weekend, capped off with some hard rounds of boxing (the reply of which is below). Even so, I came away convinced that there are more rounds yet to be fought at Binacrombi , and that’s good news. That might not sound like good news but for me Binacrombi  is one of those God-given burdens that is worth carrying.

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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