St. Matthew's Episcopal

Beatitudinal

Posted on: January 31st, 2017 by Robin Jarrell

sermon-on-the-mountI will continue my practice of summarizing the sermon for the previous Sunday because in these turbulent times, it is important to keep the Good News ever before us.

Here it is.  The Gospel within the Gospel:

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 filled.
“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.”

I’ve always said that – for a preacher – just reading these words is enough.  No need to explain them, no need to dissect them.  There is only a need to DO them.  And to BE them.

But given the fact that this country has recently banned Muslim people from our Christian call to radical hospitality, I think we need to make some attempt to shine a light in this darkness.

People during the time of Jesus – and especially now in 21st century America – thought that somehow God’s love was dependent on having money, power, prosperity, or having the absence of sickness and the like.  Imagine hearing that being disheartened, or poor in spirit, is a sign of God’s blessing.  Or that if we hunger and are thirsting for righteousness, we will be filled by God.  It doesn’t make sense.  It’s what the apostle Paul calls “foolishness to the (pretending) wise.”  All of Jesus’ blessings in his Sermon on the Mount, these Beatitudes, come from the ancient radical call to hospitality found in the Hebrew scriptures:  to care for the widow and the orphan and to not just be tolerant of, but to take good care, of the “aliens,” the strangers, among us.

So, now what are we to do?  Jesus tells us that “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.” So while it may not be convenient, or even safe to stand with and for the “least of these” who are being kept away from our radical Christian hospitality, we are still called to stand as Jesus would have us stand with the marginalized and the persecuted.

This has been a tumultuous week and, as a Christian, I am trying heartily not to despair.  When I lamented this Muslim ban to one of my sisters in Christ, she told me:  We are made for times like these.  We are called for times like these.  And we will be sustained during times like these by the one who took the beatitudes to the ultimate limit – and gave his life so we might all learn how to live more fully into God’s love for us.

And just as we can’t truly be Christians alone, we are not alone in our call to live into being called to “times like these.”  Everyone here at St. Matthew’s – indeed every Christian – needs one another.  Our living into these times requires us to really become the body of the Christ who saved us and who will sustain us as we live and grow into being the disciples of Jesus.

 

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