'Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
These words from Matthew's Gospel have been known in the Eucharist (Communion Service) as 'The Comfortable Words'. On the death of Henry VIII and his son Edward coming to the throne in 1547, a number of changes were made to Services in the Church of England. The communion would now be administered through bread and wine, not just bread. So it was necessary to bring out a new Order for the Communion Service in 1548, written or influenced by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. It was intended as an English insert into the Latin Mass. It put into English those things the ordinary people should be able to understand in their own language. 'Come unto me all that travail and be heavy leaden, and I shall refresh you' must have made a huge impact on the ordinary people:
These words have continued in the revisions of the Prayer Book over the years, and they bring a great sense of peace to those feeling stressed or worried. Jesus offers to take our burdens upon Himself, if we let Him. We don't have to carry the weight of the world upon our shoulders.
However, it's a shame the words that follow were not included: 'Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me...for my yoke is easy.' This is a two-way commitment. Jesus will take our burdens from us, and in return we seek to follow His commands.
when life gets difficult
and we cannot cope alone,
You promise to take our burdens from us.
Help us to ask for Your help,
and in return take upon ourselves
Your loving commands.
You might like to look at some basic facts about Archbishop Cranmer, whose work still affects our worship through the Book of Common Prayer and our modern Eucharistic Services in both England and Wales, as well as many other countries: