Come Unto Him (A Sermon Series in 5 Parts), Part 2:
"Your Attention, Please!"

July 10, 2011

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

Matthew 11: 28-30

Jesus said,

8 "Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart

And you shall find rest for your soul.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

 

 

Our title and our topic for today is: Your Attention Please!

 

This is the second part of our sermon series entitled, Come Unto Him - an Exploration of Matthew 11: 28-30, that I will be sharing with you during the month of July. Over the next few weeks we will be taking a look at this wonderful cornerstone of Scripture from Matthew 11.

 

8 "Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart

And you shall find rest for your soul.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

 

Today the word I would like us to focus on is ATTENTION. Be playful with me for a moment:  Let’s make the letter “A” with our hands. Use your thumbs as the crossbar for our peaked letter “A”. This will remind us that the keyword for today is ATTENTION.

 

The things we pay attention to in life are the things we give power to. As you think about this sermon this week please think about making the letter “A” with your hands and remember that it stands for ATTENTION.  

 

Come Unto Me

Jesus said, “Come unto me.” This is a powerful invitation from the spiritual presence that we call the Lord. He is inviting us to have a living relationship with the living God.

 

How do we do this? There is only one way and that is through prayer. One word, attention, is the key element. The moment you pay attention to God, you are in prayer. I love to begin prayers with the words, Let’s think about God.  Those words help put us in the right frame of mind, the right consciousness of the Lord.   To pray means to pay attention to God.  The essence of prayer is attention.  In the very moment we pay attention to God, we give Him the honor and the power in our lives.

 

Daily Prayer

You may be rushing to get dinner on the table and hurrying the kids in from outside or from the video game they are playing, but the moment everyone is finally at the table (and kind of frazzled) you say, Let’s pray together and everything changes - when you pay attention to God.

 

Thank you God, for this beautiful day. Thank you God, for this wonderful food and the loving hands that prepared it, Thank you God, for us all being together around the table. Let's all say: Thank you God, for everything. Amen.

 

Attention is the key to prayer. Whether it is getting up in the morning, or before a meal, or before an important event, or just when you are feeling thankful, if you simply pay attention to God, you will have begun your prayer well. Taking a moment to pay attention to God changes everything.

 

Praying for Others

If someone asks you, “Will you pray for me? I am going through a difficult time.”  My favorite answer to that question is, “Yes, I will, let’s do it right now.” I invite you to do the same. If someone has asked you to pray for them, they are saying that they think they know something about your spiritual life, they think that they are safe in making this request of you. They believe that you can make a positive difference in their life with your prayer. People do not ask others to pray for them lightly. You can make a positive difference. It doesn’t have to be complicated, not difficult words, just a simple blessing like this.

 

Dear Lord, I ask you to bless my friend Steven right now, that he may be surrounded with Your light, and filled with Your love. Please bless him with whatever he needs Your help with. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

 

  You are paying attention to God and to your friend and bringing them together and it all begins with attention.

 

This week ask yourself the question, what am I paying attention to? Is this what I want to give power to? Do we pay attention to our worries and our difficulties or to the blessings of God?

 

Jesus mentions “those who labor and those who are heavy burdened”. What if we changed the words to “all those who are worried about the future?” Now we are all practical people, we know we have bills to pay, we have things that need to be accomplished. But these worries can become all consuming, so that the joy and beauty of everyday life becomes neglected.  Jesus can help us.  He invites us to pay attention to His helping power.

 

Jesus said, Come unto me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Maybe the word “rest” can translate into the word “balance”.  What a gift! Maybe Jesus is saying, “I will give you balance - in what you pay attention to.

 

For instance - are you ever tempted to take your laptop on vacation?

Do you call into work during family time?

Perhaps we can think of the following prayer to help us be mindful of family time with our loved ones:

 

Dear Lord our God,

Please grant me the grace to let my mind be where my body is.  Amen.

 

Let’s make a decision to be powerful people and decide what want to pay attention to. Be mindful of the present. Please practice the prayer of presence this week and you will be accepting the gift of Jesus Christ of sacred rest - sacred balance. 

 

Turning our attention to Jesus, we'll be on our way to finding the ways in which we can reduce some of those "heavy burdens."  And that's His will for us. 

 

Next week, a visit to the carpenter shop! We are going to take a look at a wonderful, ancient legend about Jesus’s work before He went into pubic ministry, His work in the carpenter shop. We will see how that story fits like a jig saw puzzle piece into the Scripture we are reading.

 

God loves you; I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.

© 2011 Anthony J. Godlefski