I received an exclusive invitation in the mail. Printed boldly on the outside of the envelope was the simple phrase, “An Exclusive Invitation.”

I opened the envelope, removed the tri-folded paper and with great anticipation read the invitation.

It read “You are invited to become part of an exclusive group with the freedom to make purchases and take the vacation of your dreams.”

This could be mine for only $89 per year and an interest rate well above prime. I was requested to RSVP by midnight the next day.

Some of you remember when you received an invitation from Uncle Sam to report for military duty. No RSVP required. I remember an invitation from the commanding officer at MCAGCC at Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif.

“You’re invited to be part of a special group to hear General Al Gray, Commandant of the US Marine Corp. RSVP not required attendance is.”

Through invitations, we have the opportunity to become part of something. When invited to a wedding, we are invited to be part of the beginning of the couple’s life together.

When invited to an art exhibit, we are invited to enter into part of the artist’s world, to see and share in the experiences of life. Invitations provide us the opportunity to share in something special.

As Jesus walked the earth, he continually extended invitations to share in something special.

To a few guys who finished their night of fishing, Jesus said, “You’re invited to come follow me and I will make you fishers of people. No RSVP required; just drop your nets.”

To a woman he met at a well, Jesus said, “You’re invited to drink of living water. No RSVP required; just worship in spirit and in truth.”

To Nicodemus, a leader in the community and religious life, Jesus said, “You’re invited to throw away your whole past and start life over — it will be like being born again. No RSVP required; just believe in me.”

To a large crowd, Jesus said, “You’re invited to pick up your cross and follow me. No RSVP required; just strenuously come along.”

One of my go-to invitations from Jesus is,

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 CEB).

This is an invitation I find myself accepting on an ongoing basis.

Jesus says, “You’re invited to come to me, all of you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. No RSVP required.” A simple invitation to bring him your burdens and let him lighten your load.

I was having dinner with a colleague and his parents. His mother asked me, “Did you know that all three of my sons are in ministry?”

I knew two of them were ordained ministers, so I inquired, “What does your other son do?”

She responded, “When you pull up at the hotel, he is the one who says, ‘Can I carry your bags?’”

She added, “Two of my sons tell people what Jesus said; the other does what Jesus said.”

It took me a while to fully realize the impact of her statement.

One of her sons extends an invitation to make life less burdensome by simply taking bags from people and carrying them. He lessens their burden and lightens their load.

Jesus’ invitation

When Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest,” I hear him saying, “Can I carry your bags?”

Jesus is extending an invitation to carry our bags, lessen our burden, and lighten our load.

An invitation to share in the promise, “I will give you rest.” No RSVP required.

Dr. Jeff Miller is senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Killeen.

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