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You need a personal invitation?

When I seemed to loggy-gag along, not really paying much attention when I'd hear dinner was ready, or some such thing, my brother used to say was "Do you need a personal invitation?" The truth of the matter was that "yes" sometimes I did! There are many forms of invitations - both spoken and written. There are even "unspoken" invitations - simply expressed by a simple gesture, a simple look, or a nod of the head. When my grandsons were younger, my daughter would plan for their annual birthday bash about six or eight months in advance of his birthday! She'd pick a theme, begin to pick up things throughout the year, all the while working out a "theme" for the party. She is much more creative than I am - making absolutely beautiful decorations, cleverly displayed snack items, and treasures for each child who would be in attendance. It amazed me how she prepared. One of the "tasks" was the custom invitations she prepared. Yep, you read it right - custom! She designed, printed, cut, and hand prepared - until she has the "look" she wants which matched the theme of the party. There is a very important invitation we each receive - customized especially for us, as well - a personal one, as my brother would say.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

Tired? Worn out? Burned out? Sound like any of us? My work weeks have been long, the tasks mounting as members of the team are all fulfill their roles, each engaged in their own work of the week. My home life is simple compared to some, but even the task of cooking dinner after a long work day can seem like a chore on occasion. Mom's care needs continue to increase, making the 'work day' just a little longer each week. There are days I just plain don't feel like doing another thing at the end of those days! The invitation set before us today is directly from Christ - customized for all who will hear and respond. I don't know about you, but I think almost all of us could "cop" to the plea of being tired or worn out on occasion - some of us almost to a point of perpetual tiredness or weary souls. It may be related to our tendency to take on more than we should, never really being conscious of just how much the "busy-ness" of our days has incrementally increased. Truth be told, being over-extended leads to us being tired and worn out quicker than any other factor!

The invitation is also to those "burned out" on religion. This seems odd, right? Why would somebody be "burned out" on religion? Well, when Jesus gives this invitation, he is really calling to those who have tried all the "steps" of religious activity - going to church, being in the choir, volunteering to teach Sunday School, participating in the church activities one after anonter. These "activities" don't fulfill the soul and spirit - HE does. "Religion" is the attempt to "work our way" into God's good graces - an impossibility on our part, but something we just cannot seem to let go of at times! God's "good graces" are given freely and are available to all who will ask. Plain and simple, the invitation given is to get away with HIM! Jesus is asking for "personal time" - not just "planned time". I like to call this "me time". The time we take to just "get together" with Jesus is the time he uses to help us recover from all life has beaten us down with! He provides the "real rest" we are so desperately in need of. In those moments he teaches us by his example that balance is important - if not critical for our emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.

Look at the promise - I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you! God cares so much about us he even wants to lift our burdens - those things we were never meant to carry alone anyway! His goal is to "fit us well" with the things we need for life and health - not with those things that add 'weight' to our journey. We will learn to live freely and lightly in his presence! I think most of us need to learn to live a little freer and with a whole lot less weight on our shoulders! So, here's our personal invitation today - personalized just for each of us - come away! You decide how you will respond, either by just getting alone in his presence for a while, or continuing to 'schedule out' religious-time one weekend day each week. The choice to answer the invitation is personal - just like the invitation. Just sayin!

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