"Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom? "Blessed are the peacemakers" in the Pentagon?” – Kurt Vonnegot, A Man Without a Country
Matthew 5:1-16 (New Revised Standard Version)
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be fulfilled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. IN the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Who can survive in attempting to live into the spirit of the Beatitudes? Their poetic beauty and hopeful instruction are inspiring for sure, but who can actually live up to their standards? They are quite impractical in the world in which we live now, practically turning our understanding of blessing upside down. We can want to live up to these standards so much, but how realistic is it to think that we are even able?
How often have you heard someone say something to the effect of, “I feel so blessed. I am thankful for my friends and family, a job I love, a roof over my head, and the church family I walk with,”? We typically think of blessings as those positive things that enrich our lives and for which we give thanks. While we may give thanks for God’s presence, guidance and comfort during difficult, or nearly impossible times, not many of us would continually call those blessings. God’s presence and guidance, yes, but difficult moments – are those always a blessing?
On Sunday we will take a look at the Beatitudes as the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, and toss around our understanding of blessings. Perhaps there are more blessings that we can think of, and perhaps what we call a blessing rarely is? Won’t you join us on Sunday worship as we discern what it means to “Survive The Beatitudes”? We also hope you will join us for our SOUPer Bowl Sunday Fundraiser for our Mission Team to Costa Rica. The team will provide us with a soup meal following worship and would love your support. See you at the table!