God Rest Ye Weary Gentlemen

By Scott McClellan

What’s on your Christmas list this year? What, if anything, do you hope awaits you under the tree 18 days from now? Thirty years ago I was always asking for the biggest, loudest, some-assembly-required-est, batteries-not-included-est toys the North Pole and the Sears catalog had to offer. But that was a long time ago. This year my wish list includes a stainless-steel meat fork, that 800-page Alexander Hamilton biography, and a sensible cardigan. (Yes, I’m really this uninteresting.)

In this season called Advent, though, I find myself wondering if I’m really interested in what Jesus has to give.

Jesus, in his goodness and grace, doesn’t shop off my list or yours. He’s not a genie tasked with wish fulfillment, but rather God’s liberating king born to set people free. And so as Christmas approaches once again, he isn’t asking what you want. But he is inviting you to receive:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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 for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28-30

When it comes to gifts, Jesus doesn’t give random anythings. In the Advent season, and in every season, Jesus wants to give us a particular something: rest.

Rest? Rest.

I haven’t been asking for rest, but that’s what’s on offer with the Son of God. Not a trinket to polish the face I show to the world. Not an array of pixels to distract me from mundanity and mortality. Not a quick fix for the shortcomings I can’t seem to overcome. Not a life hack to solve the loneliness that’s sewn into the human condition. But rest.

The Word made flesh, the image of the invisible God, gives rest to the weary and burdened. Thank God.

Thank God because this is good news for those of us who can let go of our striving. This is good news for those of us who are willing to drop the illusion of self-sufficiency. This is good news for those of us who have reckoned with our unshakeable frailty on those suffocating mornings when we’re not sure we can get out of bed or those empty nights when everyone else in the house has long since gone to sleep.

It’s ok to be weary and burdened in the season of Advent because Jesus came for the lot of us, and he declared so long ago that he will give us rest in abundance. His rest is water for desert hearts. His rest is strength for souls long since hollowed by sin and shame. His rest is a gift, and you are invited to come to him and drink deep. 

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