Saturday, February 5, 2011

Be Attitudes

(34,137,542nd time somebody’s made that joke.)

Let’s just try to make sense of this reading.  Matthew 5:1-12
(NIV) Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.  He said:
(Message) When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.”

1)    What is a blessing?
2)    Is Jesus telling us to be these things to get a reward?
3)    Is Jesus giving the blessing to the people he’s describing? 
4)  Do you think about God being with you when things go well, or when things go poorly?

Sovreignity is the word people use to describe God being in control of everything.  Very sadly, when tragedy happens is when many people hear someone say to them “it must have been God’s will.”  The Sarcastic Lutheran, a preacher I like, said, “Maybe the sermon on the mount is all about Jesus’ seemingly lavish blessing of the world around him especially that which society doesn’t seem to have much time for, people in pain, people who work for peace instead of profit, people who exercise mercy instead of vengeance. So maybe Jesus is actually just blessing people, especially the people who never seem to receive blessings otherwise.  I mean, come on, doesn’t that just sound like something Jesus would do? Extravagantly throwing around blessings as though they grew on trees?... So if there is something we take away perhaps it is not to try and fulfill the conditions of receiving God’s blessing, but perhaps being God’s people is being a people who, like God, bless the world around us not on the basis of the world’s values but on the basis of God’s values. So I say let’s just make up excuses to bless people and places and things because it just seems so Jesusy and kind of fun and I’m pretty sure that human blessing and NOT human suffering is  “God’s will”.

Sarcastic Lutheran, Sermon on the Beatitudes 
Art: Will Humes at Flickr 

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