United Presbyterian Church  2360 Longwood Ave., Reedsport, OR 97467  (541) 271-3214
Sunday Service: 10:30: Choir Warm-up 10:15 — Office Hours: 9:00-2:00 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Pastor's Hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30-4:00Saturdays: 9:00-12:00
Making a Difference and Changing Lives Since 1919   

 Disclaimer: The sermon below is what was prepared and sat on the pulpit; it may not be what was heard.  


Pastor Buck during Joys and Concerns

GOSPEL: Matthew 11:16-19,  25-30

16. “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 17. “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ 18. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon’; 19. the Son of Man came both eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”



25. At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26. yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  28. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  29. 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.  30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Sermon for Sunday, July 9, 2017


There’s an old legend about a man and his grandson going from one city to another.  When they began the journey, the old man walked while boy rode on a donkey. Along the way they heard people grumbling, “Look at that old man suffering on his feet while that strong young boy rides in comfort.”

 So, the grandpa rode the donkey while the boy walked.  As they went along they heard more grumbling, “Look at the way that healthy man is abusing that poor young boy by making him walk.  How awful.”

 So, they decided that they would both ride the donkey and, as they rode along they heard more grumbling, “Look at those two heavy brutes making the poor donkey suffer so.”

So, they both got off and walked and, as they walked, they heard people say, “Would you look at that—a perfectly good donkey not being used!  What a waste!”

This is what Jesus was saying, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t please everyone.  John came neither eating nor drinking and people grumbled, saying that he had a demon.  Jesus came both eating and drinking and they grumbled about Him being a glutton and a drunk. It would seem that John the Baptist was too holy, while the Son of God was not holy enough.  To the self-righteous, John seemed a religious fanatic, to those same people Jesus was a libertine who was not fastidious enough in his diet, who healed on the Sabbath, whose disciples were not scrupulous in the law.  Even worse, He associated with tax collectors and sinners.

There’s just no pleasing everyone.

Jesus started these verses talking about, “…children playing in the market place, saying, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’”  Why?   What He was doing was illustrating a point by using games children actually played at the market place; games that imitated life.  Weddings and funerals were the big things in those children’s lives.  In the same way a cat teaches her kittens to hunt, children learn by observation and their games imitated life. And they grow up living what they have observed.

What Jesus is saying is that John and He have played different songs for you—and you neither danced nor wailed—nothing makes you happy.  What do you want?

We learn life from what we observe.  Both in life and in scripture, Jesus set the example of a caring, loving person—one whom we should emulate.  We saw some of that in this community yesterday.  This morning the church is filled with young people who came share their labor in a manner that does not pay, but that makes the world a better place—though I imagine they have a good time.

The vital question for us this morning is, does our life reflect Christ’s? 

It does if the Holy Spirit indwells us, because we then live out of that indwelling.  In essence, we become partnered with God. When we partner with God, without even realizing it, we change.  By changing, we become examples for others.  Also, by partnering with God we end up doing what we’re called to do, what our gifts and talents scream to do—which is always spiritual in nature—even if the work is secular.  You don’t have to be a priest or have some sort of holy calling to be partnered with God.

A while back Will Willimon, who was the Dean of the Chapel at Duke University, got a call from a very angry father who was upset because his daughter, who was headed for graduate school, just informed him that she was going to, as the father put it, “throw it all away” by doing mission work with the Presbyterians in Haiti. “Isn’t that absurd!” the father shouted. “A BS degree in mechanical engineering from Duke and she’s going to dig ditches in Haiti.”

“Well,” said Willimon, “I doubt that she’s received much training in the Engineering Department here for that kind of work, but I’m sure she’s a fast learner and will probably get the hang of ditch-digging in a few months.”

“Look,” said the father, “this is no laughing matter. You are completely irresponsible to have encouraged her to do this. I hold you personally responsible,” he said.

Dr. Willimon pointed out, as the conversation went on, that the well-meaning but obviously unprepared parents were the ones who had started this ball rolling. It was them who had her baptized, read her Bible stories, took her to Sunday School, let her go ski in Vail with the Presbyterian Youth Fellowship. Will said, “You’re the one who introduced her to Jesus, not me.”

“But,” said the father, meekly, “all we wanted her to be was a Presbyterian.”

The daughter was simply following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Those who do, lead the most fulfilled lives, even though they may be unaware of the good they’re doing. 

However, even in the most Spirit-led lives, hard times still come, which is why Jesus said, 28 “Come to me, all you that are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The word translated, “easy,” is more accurately translated as “manageable.”  When Jesus invites us to take his yoke and to learn from him, he is inviting us to join him in harness and let him help us through difficult places.  If you’re yoked to Jesus, the will of God will be done in your life. When you’re yoked to God you are partnered with Him.

An example of how this works comes from the session at the First Presbyterian Church at Texarkana.  They had a tradition of asking each newly-elected elder to share their faith journey. One new elder was a farmer-rancher who spoke of living through a long drought during 80s.  With tears in his eyes, he talked about how helpless he felt watching his crops burn up in the heat of the sun.  His stock tanks dried up, and he had to work day and night hauling water just trying to keep his cattle alive.  He stood to lose everything he’d worked for over the years.

He said he finally collapsed in his chair one night and prayed, “Lord, I just can’t do any more.  If we’re going to make it, it’s going to have to be up to you.”  He said how he felt a peace come over him, as if the Lord were telling him, “Relax.  Everything is under control. Trust me.”  He said it was an experience that forever changed his life.

Well, it didn’t rain the next day, or the next.  But, eventually, it did and life went on—and in time, even better than before.

When hard times come—and they will—the only way to get through them is to be partnered with the living God, who will lift your burdens and make them manageable.