Will Hybrid, Creative Commons
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
I have always been intrigued by a phrase in this famous Christmas verse, "And the government will be on his shoulders." It means something like this: "The weight of the world will be on his shoulders." This is a profound truth, especially for those of us who feel like we're bearing the full weight of the world on our own shoulders. Tim Hudson tells a story about George McCauslin, who some years ago served as director of a YMCA in western Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. It was a difficult situation because the YMCA was losing money, membership and staff. McCauslin worked 85 hours a week trying to solve the problem. He found himself getting little sleep at night. He took little time off. And even when he was away from the job, he was worrying and fretting about the problems of the YMCA. He visited a therapist who warned him he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Somehow he needed to let go and let God take charge of his problems. But how do you do something like that?
The breakthrough came one day when he took a notebook and ventured into a forest not far from where he lived. As he walked through the cool woods, he could feel his muscles starting to relax. Sitting down under a tree, he sighed and felt at ease for the first time in months. He took out his notebook and decided to let go of the burdens of his life. He wrote God a letter that simply said, "Dear God, Today I hereby resign as general manager of the universe. Love, George." Looking back on that moment, he reflected with a twinkle in his eye, "And wonder of wonders, God accepted my resignation."
I think many of us need to do what he did. We need to resign as general manager of the universe. Are you worn out from trying to solve every problem, help your children, take care of your parents, get your coworkers shaped up, and in general trying to fix your siblings and parents and roommates and friends and neighbors? Are you exhausted from trying to repair all the broken people and the messed up situations all around you? No wonder you're tired all the time.
Here is where the message of Christmas becomes all-important. Ponder the Babe in the manger. He came to set us free from the terrible burden (and inevitable failure) of trying to run the universe.
Let the weary world rejoice. Christ is born! He can carry the full weight of all your problems, for "the government will be on his shoulders."
Holy Lord, thank you that your shoulders are strong enough to carry all my burdens today. Amen.