the one about blessings...
January 30, 2017, 7:46 AM

Sermon from January 29, 2017

Texts: Matthew 5: 1-12, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Micah 6: 1-8

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock, and our redeemer. Amen.

So, today we hear one of Jesus’ most famous teachings. This morning, we get to listen in on that class – that brief lecture – where Jesus is sitting with his disciples – away from the crowds – and tells them how to recognize a blessing.

I’m wondering if that is something that we today as a people, society, a country, the world need to be taught again and again as well. We live in a culture that lavishes ‘blessings’ on the good things in our lives. Dare I say; we use the word ‘blessed’ to kind of brag about our lives.

We live in a world where ‘blessings’ are only given to successes. We live in a world where it can be downright difficult to feel ‘blessed’ because we don’t have the successes of those we see on social media. We don’t have the same clout as our friends down the street. We don’t feel that well about our faith, our bodies, our lives, our work, our abilities.

Yet, Jesus approaches this morning with a twist on how we recognize blessings in our life and the life of the world.

Jesus sees blessings in those that struggle in their spirit and life. Perhaps in their faith. Blessed are those who ask questions and ponder. Blessed are those whose thoughts move from the good word to the world they witness and how at times they don’t compute. Blessed are those whose hope is in those who proclaim welcome with open arms, yet hopes dashed when doors are closed.

Blessed are those who have experienced death. Blessed are those whose lives have been rocked and ravaged by pains only they can feel. Blessed are those who flee from tragedy, death, and persecution in their lives and communities to protect their families and keep them safe.

Blessed are those who are easily swayed, the quiet, the meek and mild.

Blessed are those who yearn and strive for righteousness and have a deep- seated passion for peace in our communities and world. Those who see injustice and feel called to speak up and speak out against those moments – even when it sets them apart from those they love and care.

Blessed are those who are down and out, struggling with life, frustrated beyond belief.

Those aren’t the typical avenues that we feel are blessed. Anyone in those moments and places certainly don’t feel blessed. In my conversations with those who have experienced those moments in their life, they certainly don’t feel that God is near to them. How could they – when the world constantly tells them that God isn’t.

Gotta be happy. Gotta be proud. Have to show a good face!

It all seems ‘foolish.’

We see this difficulty lived out in our lives of faith as we are reminded in our second reading this morning that God certainly appears foolish and call us into that life of faith as well. Lifting high that which sets us low and below others. We look to the cross; we are called to cling to those two pieces of wood as a reminder of God’s presence in our life.

And in that, we forget how utterly foolish it is to do that. This cross, this symbol of death and torture is what we lift up? God’s grace and life are extended through that one who died; and who didn’t even die dignified. Executed among criminals before the taunting of a powerful empire.

It’s foolish. Surely, the world’s wisdom is greater than that! Let’s look to the good, the shiny, the majestic, the huge numbers, grand moments, and the great objects in our lives instead.

Yet, we still cling to God’s hope and promise of new life that is given to us through the cross. It is through that death and resurrection that we are called to live in faith. We hope and pray for and in those words of promise and life. But still, from the outside looking in – it is foolish.

Our Lord was captured. Arrested. Mocked. Died. Is it wise to proclaim that life?

Yes, because God’s foolishness is still more wise than the world’s wisdom.

It seems and appears wise and prudent to double-check, hold at arm’s length, or perhaps even prevent those who flee violence just in case. It is foolish to welcome with open arms, caring hearts, and warm homes those that others say we don’t know enough about – where the only thing that God calls for us to do - in Christ - is to love others as ourselves.

We are called to proclaim. We live the life that God has gifted to us because of what God has done in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ our Lord. We are called to recognize the blessings of God in the people and places that the world attempts to divert our attention from.

As one of my favorite theologians – Rev. David Lose - stated this past week 

Jesus urges his disciples – then and now – to look at those around us differently than the culture does. Rather than measure persons by their possessions, we are invited – nay, commanded – to see their character. Rather than merely take pity on their losses, we are invited to enter into them. Rather than judge their failings, we are invited to forgive and remind them that they are blessed by God and born for more than they’ve settled for. And rather than despise weakness, we are invited to see in it the truest point of meeting between God’s children. For God reveals God’s self to us most clearly and consistently at our places of deepest need.

We still cling to the promise of blessedness given to us by God. Where we discover that God is at work – fully and intentionally – in the places that we don’t expect.

God is at work in the lives of those who care for others who have been displaced. Those who house and show extreme hospitality to those suffering displacement, addiction, hunger, and fear.

Where God is present in the lives of each of us – we these broken and sinful creatures. Where the world might tell us we are nothing, but God has set each of us apart for something great. To proclaim God’s goodness and love to the world. To stand with others who are broken and beaten down. To lift our voices together in praise of what God continues to do in the world.

And still, many will see it as foolishness. It isn’t loud enough. It isn’t big enough. It isn’t grand enough.

Yet, we continue to look for the blessings in places, and in people, the others would rather look past and walk quickly by.

Remember. You are a blessing. Not because of what you have. Not because of how ‘great’ things are around you. You and everyone else are a blessing because of what God has done and continues to do. You and all others are blessings in our proclamation of the one who foolishly died, yet gloriously rose from the dead for the world.

As we live this life, seeing blessings in places and people we wouldn’t expect, we remember what God desires in us as blessings. We remember those rich and beautiful words of Micah that we read this morning.

God has told you, O mortal, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but, to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.


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