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This morning, Pastor Daniels and I were speaking about crosses that many people bear. What comes to mind immediately is the story of St. Paul Gergardt. He was a pastor in Germany in the early 17th century. He had to bury his own wife, many of his children, a majority of his congregation, and was exiled from his parish to a country church because of his faithfulness to the Lutheran Confession. When we look at Paul Gerhardt, or others like him, we see heavy crosses on their backs. We see people who have lost a spouse, buried children, lost a child in miscarriage, been diagnosed with a terminal disease, or live in a country where Christianity is persecuted with the sword, and we see the heavy cross they bear. We see their heavy and blatant crosses and we desires to be there for them, to be their Simon of Cyrene and help them bear the heavy load.
But what about the pocket crosses? What about the little problems that add up over time? What about those little issues that aren't that big a deal by themselves, but when added to all the other problems in life, make it a heavy load to carry? What about the little fights over daily problems? What about the kids that get sick once a month and change the whole schedule? What about the anxiety, depression, or ADHD that makes every day a not so fun adventure? What about the weight gains, or the weight loses? What about the little things that add up over and over again, like pinches of sand inside your pockets? No one notices these things, so you end up bearing them on your own. Over time, those little pinches of sand become heavy boulders in your cargo shorts and they slow you down to a halt. We have those sins that keep coming up time and time again, those failures and mistakes we keep making that no one else knows about, and those sins are the ones that weigh us down little by little. Yes, we may not be carrying a massive cross, visible for the whole world to see. However, we are bearing hundreds of pocket crosses that have the same burden on us.
This is why Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11). And St. Paul wrote to the Galatians saying "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2). Jesus bears our burdens for us. He is our lamb who bears our sin, meaning He died for it on the cross, and now in the means of grace bears our burden by forgiving us all our transgressions. Jesus takes our burdens from us and we walk through this life now carrying the light yoke of the Gospel, meaning we still will suffer in this life, we will still have burdens, but now we bear them as children destined for an eternity of peace and joy. In this life then, sense we continue to be burdened by the sins of the world, we bear one another's sins, one another's heartaches and cares. Some of the crosses we bear with each other are obvious and clear as day. However, most of the time we will bear burdens with each other simply by being kind and patient with each other, putting the best construction on each other, because we have no clue how many pocket crosses our neighbor is carrying.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam be drowned anew so that you hear only the peaceful voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "I forgive you. I love you. I claim you as My own forever," Amen.