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."
Rest, You Who Are Weary And Burdened
by Candi K. Cann, Ph.D.
Reflecting on this passage in a pandemic, I am most struck by how the lines between work, school and rest have been blurred. We are juggling jobs and at-home learning and doing it in the places that we used to go to for refuge. My kitchen table is now also homeschool central and the place where I drink my coffee while on my morning Zoom calls.
Advent is a time of active waiting and anticipation for Christ's coming into the world. This passage in Matthew encourages Christians to rest, but it is not a passive rest, or a numbing of oneself, but a rest for our souls, in which we are emptied out to return to God refreshed and able to do God's good work on this earth. Too often, in this busy world, we see rest as an antithesis of work—a non-productive time that has little value in a culture centered on labor and busy-ness as its values. But, truly, rest is an essential virtue we are called to as Christians. God creates the world in six days, and then declares the seventh one a day of rest. Rest is not incidental, but an essential part of the story of creation.
Rest is also a fundamental part of Advent. We rest and wait. We wait in anticipation with hope and the knowledge that Christ is coming to make the world better and to make something out of our brokenness.
My favorite thing about Christmas is the music. But here's the thing about music—the notes work precisely because there are pauses that frame the notes and set them off from the rest of the score. The musical rests are as essential to the music as the notes. We are called to rest—not because we are tired, or because we can't go on—but because the rests give us the space to see God's work in the world, to appreciate creation, and to see the music that God is making out of our lives.
So, this Advent, I invite you to rest. You, who are weary and burdened, it is time for your souls to rest.
Learn More About Our Guest Writer
Candi K. Cann, Ph.D.
Candi K. Cann, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Religion in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core within the Honors College. Dr. Cann's research focuses on death and dying, and the impact of remembering (and forgetting) in shaping how lives are recalled, remembered and celebrated. She examined this theme through martyrdom in her early scholarship, but more recently has shifted to "virtual" memorials, specifically examining internet memorials and social network sites as a way for remembering the dead.
Dr. Cann's own fieldwork has largely occurred in China and Argentina. She has lived and worked in various regions of China, first working for the Amity Foundation in China, and later helping write the first Let's Go travel guide for China. Additionally, she has lived and worked in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in addition to studying at the Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones (DEI) in San Jose, Costa Rica, and heading the Latino Cultural Center (as GA) for two years at MIT.