final_advent_cover1.jpgTake 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 12:29-30 (NIV)

To be honest, Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday. The season brings too much pressure. Too many things to buy, do, and bake. Not to mention all the family pressure, like whose house we will be celebrating at this year. I tend to get overwhelmed and tired and forget what I am celebrating.

I think the Hebrew people understood this to some degree. They had over 600 laws that they were supposed to follow. Even when they celebrated or worshiped they had to be very careful to follow all those specific laws. It must have felt like an overwhelming and impossible task. They probably couldn’t really follow every single one of them, or even half of them.

To make it even more complicated, a community probably only had one written list of these rules, and most of them couldn’t read it anyway. A rabbi’s job was to study, interpret, and teach these laws to his flock. Even with all those specific laws, some rabbis interpreted them differently. For example, even a well known basic law such as “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. . . . on that day you shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:8-11), can be interpreted many different ways. What does work and rest look like? Does not doing any work mean you can’t go into the office, watch TV, drive to church, or cook dinner? Does rest mean you should spend the day in bed, or does getting a pedicure count as restful? Each rabbi’s interpretation was called his “yoke.” Just like the teachers you had in high school, some rabbis were more strict than others. Their yoke was heavy.

Then Christ showed up and announced that His yoke was easy. Next time you wait in a long department store line or, address fifty Christmas cards or bake a few dozen Christmas cookies for your kid’s class, remember that Christ’s burden is light. Seek rest in Him and remember that you are not bound to the rules of the season given to you by Hallmark, your neighbors, or even your family. It is ok not to make every event. It is ok to buy those cookies at the store. It is ok if your Christmas cards show up around Valentine’s Day. If you are weary and burdened by the season, find rest in Him.

Christ, thank You for providing rest and relief for the weary. I am so thankful that following You is not about a never-ending list of rules but about a relationship.

What can you not do or do more efficiently today? Use the time you save to rest and hang out with “your rabbi.”