Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dear Millennials

Dear Millennials,

Let me start by telling you something: I am one of you.  My birth year puts me on the earliest edge of our generation.  I am not an old person from a different era, I don’t “not understand” the things that are important to most of us, the culture that we have grown up in, and now live in.  I get the desire for authenticity and community.  I know that we live in a vastly different environment than our parents.  (Mine are still vaguely offended that they have to pay more than 10¢ for a hamburger at McDonalds.) I know that the things that were taken for granted 50 or 100 years ago are now all up for grabs, and we get to (have to?) navigate our lives in a world where every choice is up to us. 

But let me tell you something else: I am the Church.  Yeah, you read that right.  An ordained pastor, called to the ministry of God’s Word and Sacraments.  I got this gig because God dragged me into it, kicking and screaming at times.  And there are days and nights, hours and minutes, weeks and months when I hate it.  

I hate when there are mean people at my church, people who stare too long at crying children, or who criticize volunteers for “doing it wrong.”  I hate that I often have to choose between vapid, shallow 7/11 Jesus-is-my-boyfriend music and Biblically, theologically rich hymns full of words that no one understands.  I hate that many people would rather complain in the parking lot than give 2 hours/month to helping our community function better.  I hate that meetings that should take 45 minutes often take 3 hours.  I hate that sometimes outreach into the community gets questioned because “those people will never come back to church”, and I hate that sometimes we do community outreach that doesn’t seem to bring anyone closer to God.  I hate that sometimes I have to tell people that things they’re doing are wrong, and that at times I have to fundraise for my own salary.  I hate that my congregants are rockstars at saying hi to visitors in worship, but terrible at inviting them to stay for coffee.  I hate that I can’t always see God working.  I hate that I have to work weekends, and that I never ever get to go to church, only to work.  I hate the sheer amount of sin and brokenness and death and destruction in this world, that lands on my doorstep every day.

And I hate that I hate these things.  I hate that I hate these things, because they are all a part of my job, and a part of the call that God has placed on me in this moment, in this time and place. 

Because really, I love my job.  I love that it’s my job to say, “At the command of Christ, I forgive you all your sins.”  I love that it is my job to literally put Jesus into people’s hands.  I love that it’s my job to encourage people in their crazy outside-the-box ideas for how to bring the Word of God to others, and for how to care for the people in our community who are most in need.  I love splashing babies and adults with water, and reading the Christmas proclamation, and being in my office when the quilters come over to drop off more fabric and they stop to chat and catch me up on their grandkids’ lives. I love being with the kids in confirmation class when they tell me about a break up, or why they are on the track team even though they hate running  or they suddenly get that the Holy Spirit’s job is to bring them to Jesus.  I love anointing a sick baby and seeing God work powerfully to heal that little one and to strengthen the faith of her parents.  I love draping a funeral pall over a casket and beseeching God to accept this sheep of his own flock, this sinner of his own redeeming.

So despite all of the things that I hate about the Church – the fact that the people don’t always do what I think they should, the Bible doesn’t always say what I wish it would, the words don’t always come out of my mouth the way I intended, our worship services aren’t always as awesome as I want them to be, it’s so easy to get hung up on “how to live” and “what to believe” that we sometimes forget that Jesus is bigger than that, and conversely, it’s so easy to talk about God’s love and grace that we sometimes forget that the only reason we need God’s love and grace is because we are, in fact, sinners – despite all of that, I hang in there with the Church, the body of believers across time and space, and my church, the unique little outpost of the Church that God has called me to at this moment. 

I hang in there because I genuinely believe that Jesus has the power to save.  He has the power to forgive my sins, and the sins of everyone I know, and everyone I don’t know.  He died, and was made alive again, and because he connected me to that when I was baptized, someday I will see him face to face, and all the sadness and junk and imperfection and awfulness of this world will fade away in the light of his glory.  I hang in there because I believe it, even though I emphatically do not understand it, even though sometimes belief feels more like “really flipping hope so” than “staid unshakeable confidence.”  I hang in there because if I don’t, I’m totally out of options.  Nothing else even pretends to offer what Jesus actually does. 

And so I hope that you’ll hang in there too, Millennial.  But I want you to hang in there for the right reasons. 

See, it’s fashionable these days for all the “church people” to freak out about no one coming to church anymore and we’re all dying and no one is in Sunday School and oh no what are we going to do?  And it’s become equally fashionable for us Millennials to assert our specialness and write articles and publish them on the internet about what the Church should do to get us to “come back.”  Pew Research recently released some survey showing that “more people than ever” aren’t Christian and aren’t going to church.  Apparently I’m supposed to be very worked up about this. 

But the thing is, I kind of don’t care if you come back to church.  I kind of don’t care if you’re a Christian.  I’ve belonged to a congregation that had over 12,000 people in worship each weekend. For realz.  And I have belonged to a congregation that had 12 people in worship on Easter Sunday.  Literally.  I’m really not concerned about the survival of the Church – Jesus has promised to protect it – and so I’m really not concerned about the survival of any one congregation.  Whether you come to church or not has very little impact on my ego, or that of my parishioners.  What I care about – what they care about – is that you hear the Word of Jesus, that you join his family in the Sacrament of Baptism, and you come to his dinner table at Holy Communion.  I care that you know God loves you, and forgives you, and is preparing a place for you.  I care that the Holy Spirit opens up a sliver of faith in your soul, faith that changes the way you see yourself, and other people, and the whole world.  I care that you have a place to express joy in the greatest, most amazing moments, and a Person – and people – who will carry your burdens in the saddest, toughest, hardest times.  I care that you know that while you will have troubles in this world, Jesus has overcome the world, and when you’re connected to him, you also overcome the world. 

But if you don’t, it’s no skin off my nose.  If Jesus isn’t really what you want or need right now, then church isn’t for you.  If you’re looking for a place where you can help people or feel connected or get a little dose of inspiration for your week, then you should definitely join the Kiwanis Club or volunteer at Habitat for Humanity or watch more TED talks online.  In that case, church probably is not what you’re looking for, and you shouldn’t feel any obligation to go.  You’re free to stop obsessing about what the Church needs to do to get you to come back, and you don’t need to tell us all what we’re doing wrong.  You do your thing, and we’ll do ours.  This pastor said so, and when my congregation wonders why you’re not here, I’ll tell them the same thing.  We’re Millennials, so let’s be genuine and authentic about what we really want, right? 

But if you are intrigued by the person of Jesus, if you need a place to hear that the stuff you screw up day in and day out is forgiven and done away with, if you’d like to be able to believe that there’s more to life than just what you can see, if you want to touch the veil between heaven and earth, then come to church. 

It won’t be perfect.  The people there are going to mess up and say the wrong things and do the wrong things and sing dumb songs and use words you don’t understand.  The pastor might say too much about who he or she thinks you should vote for, or might not be as gentle in tackling tough issues as you’d like, or might shy away from saying some hard things.  Someone might look at you like you’re not sure why you’re there, or they might kneel too much or wave their hands in the air too much or the coffee might (probably will) be gross.  The people might ignore you, or they might smother you.  The pastor might have 4 other people tugging on his or her sleeve, and can’t welcome you in quite the way you’d like, or you might have to sit closer to the front than you’d like, or you might feel like you’re dressed wrong. 

And maybe it’s not the right church for you.  Maybe you really can’t handle feeling pushed into politics, or Elizabethan English, or like Jesus is supposed to be your boyfriend.  Maybe you are the only person under the age of 50, or the only one who’s not married, or 8:00 am really is too early for you.  Maybe the pastor honestly is kind of weird, or there are some totally unhealthy dynamics going on that just make that particular congregation not a good place right now.  That’s okay.  Those things happen. So it's a good thing that there's more than one church in most neighborhoods.

But remember that you’re not perfect either.  You’ve messed up and said and done the wrong things and used words other people didn’t understand to make yourself look good.  You’ve said rotten crap online to perfect strangers, and been too quick to judge somebody else’s situation, and not said something when you probably should have.  You’ve danced weirdly in the rain and expected that people just naturally did certain things and then mocked them when they didn’t.  You’ve ignored people who made you uncomfortable and made a fool of yourself with someone who you were sure was going to be your new BFF.  You’ve struggled to manage the expectations of everyone in your life, and other people have had to feel awkward and uncomfortable so you wouldn’t be inconvenienced.  

Being human is hard.  The strange social dances we do as we get to know new people and new situations are always awkward.  When have you ever been in any group setting where everything was 100% exactly what you wanted?  School?  Family? Parties?  Work?  Sports teams?  Of course not. The fact that we’re in church doesn’t make us less human.  But it does mean that God is with us, holding our hands, forgiving us and encouraging us to forgive others, slowly smoothing out the rough edges that each of us has.  

So as you church-shop, if you decide that church is important to you, remember what you’re looking for: Jesus.  Find a place that connects you to Jesus, and where you can be…okay, even if it’s not perfect.  Don’t define yourself by broad generational characteristics, let Jesus define you as a unique person who He loves.  Come hang out with the rest of us sinners, gathered around the Lamb who was slain for the forgiveness of our sins.  When you’re ready, we’ll be here.  Until then –

Peace, Love, and Jesus,

A Millennial Pastor

Friday, November 28, 2014

Rend the Heavens

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!  Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!...Since ancient times, no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.  You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways.  But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry.  How then can we be saved?...Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord, do not remember our sins forever.  Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people.

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Does anyone else feel this way?  Like you are just beyond ready for God to rend – tear apart – the heavens, and come down?  Come down, Lord, and be with us.  Come down, Lord, and fix things.  Come down, Lord, and avenge our enemies.  Come down, Lord, and save us.  Come down, Lord, and forgive our sins, and theirs, and just make it…better…right…the way it’s supposed to be. 

All we have to do is flip on the evening news, or look at the morning newspaper, to see what a complete nightmare the world is.  Riots and destruction in Ferguson, Missouri.  Ebola still spreading like wildfire across Africa.  Teenagers who commit suicide.  Moms and dads who can’t get along, and kids who get caught in tangled web of divorce proceedings.  People without a home to live in or food to eat or blankets to keep warm.

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Cold war games stirring up again in Russia and eastern Europe.  And full-fledged hot wars running throughout the Middle East.  ISIS chopping off heads with abandon, Palestine and Israel still duking it out…

Oh, that you would rend the heavens, and come down!

And that’s without Black Friday!  Grown women reduced to brawls over a Barbie doll.  Really?  Shoppers literally stealing items out of each other’s carts.  Policemen breaking up fights over televisions…as though there was anything good to watch on them in the first place!  Is it me, or is this ridiculous?

Oh, that you would rend the heavens, and come down!

Doctor’s appointments and medical charts that tell the sad news…cancer.  Stroke.  Alzheimer’s.  MS.  Miscarriage.  I’m sorry…you’re just getting old.  Downcast faces, and the words, “there’s nothing more we can do.”  Sudden, tragic, unexpected deaths.  Are they better or worse than long, painful, agonizing, drawn-out dying processes?  I don’t know…

Oh, that you would rend the heavens, and come down, because Thanksgiving is over and it’s supposed to be the Christmas season, and it sure doesn’t feel like Christmas, does it?

No, it doesn’t feel like Christmas.  It feels like Advent.     

Oh, that you would rend the heavens, and come down!  This is the cry, the theme of Advent.  We so often talk about Advent as a time of waiting, before Christmas, as though Advent was some sort of invention by the boring old party-pooper Church to keep you from getting too excited about Christmas…or perhaps it’s some sort of counter-cultural few weeks meant to teach us to slow down, and not be so darn materialistic about Christmas…we so often talk about the waiting of Advent as though the Church, during Advent, was your mother, standing over you, lecturing you about not shaking the boxes under the tree to try to figure out what your presents are before Christmas. 

But that’s not Advent.  Advent is not four long weeks of sitting in the doctor’s office waiting…waiting…waiting…what is going on, I have things to do today, can’t we just get on with it…and so you tap your toes and play on your phone and rummage through your coat pockets looking for a tic tac, while listening to the tacky “smooth jazz” renditions of 1980s Michael Bolton hits, which reminds you of the ex-girlfriend you took to the senior prom and maybe you should look her up on Facebook.  (No.  No, you shouldn’t.)

But anyway, that’s not Advent.  Advent is not so much the Church standing athwart the Christmas-Industrial Complex yelling, “Stop!” as it the Church praying, “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down.”  And whether that prayer comes with the fervor and enthusiasm of a Billy Graham style revivalist, or the last weak breaths of a dying woman, whether it comes in the simple bedtime prayers of a child, or the reverent notes of a congregation singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” again this year, just as they have every year, it is the words, the voice of a faithful people, calling on our God, living in faith, hope, and trust that God hears our cry – and that pleases God. 

“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!”   

And just as figs follow the green branches and budding leaves, Christmas follows Advent, as God’s answer to our prayer, as proof positive that God does hear us, He does see us poor miserable sinners, and He does indeed rend the heavens and come down to save us, for we are His people.

In the gospel lesson from Mark today, we hear Jesus discussing with His disciples about the time that He will return to them, about the final, ultimate time when God will rend the Heavens and come down.  He tells them that at that time, there will be great distress, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken, and then, into the middle of terror and torture, darkness and distress, we will see the Son of Man, coming on clouds with great power and glory, and send the angels to gather all the elect (that’s you), from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. 

Oh, that you would rend the heavens, and come down.  The disciples would have known this old Scripture, this old prayer from the prophet Isaiah and Jesus says to them, and to us today, “Oh indeed, I shall.” 

When that will be, we don’t know.  The Israelites, the whole world, really, who had been praying, hoping, watching, waiting for a Messiah since, gosh, the 3rd chapter of Genesis…who would have expected the way the birth of Jesus played out, the time of the first “rending of heaven,” and “God coming down”?  No one, of course…but they were not expected to, either.  God didn’t ask the faithful people of old to “predict” the birth of Jesus, the coming of the Messiah, any more than He asks us today
to “predict” when Christ will return. 

He simply asked them, and us, to be faithful in the interim.  To watch for His coming.  Not to try to read the tea leaves about wars and rumors of wars. Not to party like it’s going out of style because, well, there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.  Simply to watch.  To watch and to wait, eagerly, clinging tightly to Him.  He is the one who will hold us firm, He is the one who make sure that we are blameless on the day of Jesus Christ, He is the one who hears us when we cry, “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!”

May this be our Advent this year.  May the next three and a half weeks be filled with prayer and watching for the many ways in which God rends the heavens and comes down – in the words of Scripture and in His Holy Sacraments, in the forgiveness of our sins and the encouraging words of fellow Christians, and finally then at Christmas in the birth of His Son, Jesus. 

God has already rent the heavens and come down – and He promises to do so again – when the world, our world, your world is dark and despairing, shaken from its foundations, enslaved to sin and death.  God is faithful, and He has called us into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. As we look around ourselves this month – and always – and notice that it doesn’t always feel very much like Christmas, may we remember that it does feel like Advent, and so offer up our prayers to the God who hears, and always acts on behalf of His people, especially in our darkest moments, when the world is at its worst. 

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down.  Amen. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Water Buffalo Sermon

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light…”  

Sweet – what’s a yoke?  And why does Jesus have one?  

Well, at its most basic level, a yoke is a, a thing that you lay over the neck and shoulders, and maybe even the head, of animals that are suited to ploughing.  Sometimes just one animal, but frequently two animals.  And the yoke helps direct the animal to do what it’s supposed to do – it keeps it focused in the proper direction, helps it turn if it needs to turn – especially if you’re working with two animals, you need to make sure that they’re moving in the same direction at the same time.  And the yoke – yoke – not yolk like an egg yolk – the yoke, is a harness, basically, that is shaped to fit the particular animal, so that the farmer can direct it properly.   

Now, we live in a culture today that is not too far removed from the rural setting – a few of you still farm, and a good number of you grew up farming, even if that’s no longer your profession.  We’re not unfamiliar with farming…but for most of us, farming that involves a yoke is really not something we’ve had much to do with.  Many farmers today are chilling out in air-conditioned tractors watching satellite tv with one foot on the gas, while the GPS system takes care of the rest.  Who needs a yoke when outer space tells you when and where to turn, right?  

But even if we here in the civilized, modernized, western world have moved beyond yokes and animals for our farming, many, perhaps most, people throughout the world have not.  Yokes – and the animals that are guided by them – are common in many parts of the world, especially those places that are much more impoverished than we are.  And now, personally, I always thought that a yoke was about oxen, and not really much else.  Oxen use a yoke, but horses or donkeys, or whatever, well, I don’t know…  Maybe I’m the only one who thought this, but… turns out that yokes aren’t limited to oxen – apparently, you can also yoke horses, mules, donkeys, and water buffalo.  Water buffalo!  

Anybody out there familiar with Veggie Tales?  I mean, really, it’s not really fair of me to mention water buffalo if I’m not going to show this, yeah? 

For any of you not familiar with Veggie Tales, this is Larry the Cucumber, well, as it said, the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings a silly song.  And in this particular one, Larry is rebuked by Archibald the Asparagus for singing that “everybody’s got a water buffalo”, because everyone certainly does NOT have a water buffalo, and well, you saw it.  

So, whatever.  It’s a silly song. But the more I think about it, the more I think that maybe Larry is right.  Maybe everybody does have a water buffalo…at least, in some sense.  So, here’s a picture of a water buffalo.

That doesn’t really look like something you want to tangle with, does it?  It’s…large…and it has…horns…and it has just plopped its muddy self right down in the middle of an otherwise perfectly useful river…This is a metaphor here, but, do you see what I’m saying?  Is there anything in your life that feels like a water buffalo?  Something that is large and awkward and difficult to control – something with pointy horns that has taken up residence in what was once a perfectly nice area of your life?

For some of us, our water buffalo is our job, our employment.  You don’t really like it all that much, or maybe you actually hate it, or maybe you wish you just had one, period.  Maybe your water buffalo is money – maybe no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get finances under control, and you’re always one step behind on bills…you feel like you’ll never get your head above water…Some people’s water buffalo is their schedule – you’re jam-packed up to here.  You’re running basically a professional taxicab service for your kids or grandkids, you’re working more jobs than you can count, your own “extracurricular activities” are too numerous to mention, and you can’t remember the last day you just did…nothing.  Or what about a “health” water buffalo?  Some of you have some pretty intense health issues going on right now, that have just sort of taken over your lives…or even if you’re not in the middle of a crisis, underlying chronic conditions just take their toll, and take over all your daily decisions.  Some of you have a water buffalo that is related to aging…suddenly, it seems like old age – and the changes it brings – has just deposited itself in your living room and there’s really nothing you can do about it.  You don’t like it, you don’t know how to deal with it, but it’s clearly not going away.  And for some of us, relationships are the core of our water buffalo.  

Relationships with your kids, spouse, siblings, parents, or even friends.  The constant fighting…or the cold shoulder…or the walking on eggshells…the fact that whatever you wanted that relationship to be, it’s changed, and that change feels like a giant water buffalo is sitting on you all the time.  Maybe your water buffalo is all about pressure to succeed.  You need to be perfect at school and the MVP on all your sports teams and never miss a beat at home and always get that next promotion at work…the constant worry that you’re not good enough is a huge water buffalo…

Whatever your thing is, point being, Larry the Cucumber is right: we all have a water buffalo.  And some of them start off oh so cute.  Look at this little baby water buffalo! 

 Isn’t it adorable?  I bet when you took that job, or went into debt to buy the car or the furniture or whatever, when you said “I do” or signed on to the team, this was the picture in your mind.  But now this sweet little thing has turned into this:

Yeah…And sometimes, it’s actually our whole lives – not just our lives, but our actual selves, us as individuals, that seem to have turned into a giant water buffalo.  Listen again to the reading from St. Paul’s letter to the church in Rome:  “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

Do you ever have this feeling?  Like, “GAH!  What is going on?  With me?  And my whole life?  And why is everything screwed up, and why do I screw everything up???  Everybody’s got a water buffalo?  I AM the danged water buffalo!”


See, the thing about water buffalo is that, if they’re not…controlled, managed, yoked, and so on, they end up trampling all over the natural vegetation, disturbing bird nests and other small animal habitats, and even spreading poisonous weeds all over… but when someone who knows what they’re doing controls the water buffalo, and yokes them, and put them to a decent use…they look like this:

So today, in the gospel reading, Jesus is addressing those of us who are weary, and heavy-laden.  I’m pretty sure that’s all of us. There’s a lot of water buffalo in our lives, and we keep trying to yoke them ourselves, and that gets pretty tiring after a while.  We’re like this guy:

What we need – every one of us – is somebody who knows how to yoke a water buffalo.  Somebody who can take all the large, awkward, pointy horned, vegetation trampling, weed spreading, mud sitting water buffalo that is, well, each one of us, and turn us into this:

Somebody who puts a yoke on our water buffalo, on us, and takes us to exactly where we’re supposed to be – guided, directed, cared for, and most especially, loved.  Look, this guy loves his water buffalo.  It means so, so much to him.  And he has carefully crafted a wooden yoke, as part of his care for his dear, water buffalo.  You can see it in his eyes, in the way his hand rests on the animal.  And doesn't it kind of look like the water buffalo gets that?  He understands that his master loves him, and is caring for him.  This is what Jesus is talking about when He says, “take My yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle, and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul…”

Trying to yoke ourselves, trying to get ourselves and our problems yoked, organized, moving in the right direction, fixed, solved, always on top of everything, doing what we’re supposed to, have it all under control, all of that is exhausting.  It’s utterly, completely exhausting.  And we find, with Paul, that the stuff we want to do we don’t do, and the stuff we don’t want to do, we do, and it’s all so frustrating and aggravating and hard, just plain hard, and eventually, I think, we all reach a point where we just want to give up.  We might not admit that to anyone, but who hasn’t, in the deepest part of your soul, wished for it all just to go away for a minute, an hour, a day.  If you could only have some space, to think, and be still, and just hit the reset button and start over… Do you ever just want to sit down, right in the middle of the river there and just cry, until someone comes to rescue you?


Over here, in Matthew’s gospel, we’ve got Jesus raising His hand – “Ooh, call on me!  I will!  I will!  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.  My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 

The irony here, is that when you yoke an animal, it’s because you’re putting it to work.  But Jesus is talking about rest – rest for your soul.  When you wear His yoke, it’s not so He can put you to work, it’s so you can find rest – deliverance from all the weary, heavy-laden-ness of your life.

Yes, His yoke is easy…but sometimes the process of “taking it on”, is not so much.  Because to take on Christ’s yoke, we have to let go of our own…and more than that, we have to let go of our illusion that we can do it ourselves (!!) if only we just try harder.  See, I think that on a fairly regular basis, when we confront the water buffalo in our life, or when we realize that we are the water buffalo, we go to Jesus and we ask Him to show us how to do a better job of yoking ourselves, or maybe we say, “Hey, a little help here, Jesus?” And we expect him to help us nudge the water buffalo into submission.  Altogether too frequently, we don’t so much look to Christ for His yoke, but for an instruction manual on our own yokes. 

But that’s not what’s on offer here.  In fact, Jesus says that the Father hides things from those of us who think we’re wise and learned, who just want the correct answers.  Jesus doesn’t want you to fix your own yoke, or do a better job of controlling it.  He doesn’t want to give you advice for how to live your best life now.   

He wants you to take His yoke, He wants you to see that He is your best life now!    

He’s not simply here to teach you how to operate your own yoke, how to manage yourself or your water buffalo.  He’s here to actually give you His yoke, so that He can handle the water buffalo.  The reason that the “right answers” are hidden from you, are precisely so that you will turn to Christ.  Christ is the ultimate “right answer”, and He is so much more than the right answer…if all that He did was give us 7 Steps to Godly Weight Loss or 3 Keys For Successful Leadership, we’d still be relying on ourselves, and missing out on His resurrection and redemption!  So that’s no good.  Not at all.  No, no. 

Go all the way.  Everybody’s got a water buffalo, but it’s time to let go of yours.  Throw the whole messy muddy thing at God - it doesn't have to be organized when you give it to Him.  Let him deliver you from this body of death, and take His yoke upon you.  Let Him place it on you, in fact.  His yoke is easy, and the burden is light.  He is gentle, and humble in heart, and there – in Him – you will find rest for your souls.  What more could we ask for, than for someone to deliver us?

In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit – Amen.