Nehumi Holameitonga.
Photo: Courtesy of Virginia Holameitonga

‘… for my yoke is easy and my burden is light’

Andrew Collis
Funeral for Nehumi Holameitonga
(January 20, 1948 – February 1, 2022)
Matthew 11:25-30

Then Jesus prayed, “Abba God, Creator of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to the youngest children. Yes, Abba, everything is as you want it to be.”

Jesus continued, “Everything has been handed over to me by Abba God. No one knows the Only Begotten except Abba God, and no one knows Abba God except the Only Begotten – and those to whom the Only Begotten wants to give that revelation.

“Come to me, all you who labour and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Jesus sees the suffering we endure for Christ’s sake, for goodness’ sake. Jesus sees when we are tired (our daily challenges met, to be overcome), tired of the struggle for justice. Jesus sees when we are worried (for one another, for the world).

Jesus sees us in the light of poor and exploited people everywhere. To all of us he offers comfort – endurance, resilience with honour and dignity … Jesus sees us in the light of essential workers, often underappreciated/underpaid workers … committed, in diverse modes, to serving Creation in the way of Christ.

These images of Nehumi and family express so much …

It’s not that we will live like the rich (separate from others, bound to possessions) but instead with a new sense of life. It’s the comfort in knowing what’s right, what’s fair and just, good and true.

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Here you will find rest for your souls …”

The yoke is love, the yoke of loving others. Jesus tells us to learn from him, that is, to follow his example by fighting for the liberation and wellbeing of others … one another.

Jesus is gentle and humble of heart not because he was submissive to oppression but because he was able to endure in that struggle, and because his heart was always on the side of the humble and the poor … We are to live in a poor and humble way, but also (join the) struggle to achieve peace and happiness for all …

Nehumi lived and laboured for the ones he loved. I’m in awe of the story – the leaps of faith, the open doors, the guiding hands, commitments honoured, elders remembered – the weight of responsibility he regarded a blessing – the grandchildren lifted high.

Sini, James and Netta, you will always know this kind of love – wherever you go. Juwan, Wesley, Quincy, Renai, Quanita, Sisilia, Kidada, Talei, Elsa, you will always know this kind of love – whatever you do.

Jesus said, “… for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

His yoke is freedom: freedom from sin, freedom from oppression … And rest means the solution to being over-burdened and exhausted. The yoke Jesus offers, really – it’s more/better than magic – is a new social system based on love. Our Christian burden is to live together in a community of love, and that’s a burden easy to bear. “Submit to my liberation,” says Jesus.

The Holameitonga family models such a system – each looking out for the other, sharing resources, gifts of time and expertise – free to live and free to grieve.

Thank you for the honour of presiding tonight. On behalf of the congregation here – with deep respect for Nehumi, your brother, father, grandfather, uncle, friend – thank you for showing and sharing your faith in God.

The good news and power of God.
Praise to you, O Jesus Christ. Amen.