“Blessed”

Matthew 5:1-12

January 29, 2023

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Matthew 5:1-12


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.

| Centering Prayer |

Too often we throw around words

As if they are unbreakable,

With little or no regard for their use;

As if they had

no origin, history, or precedence.

We find it easy to insult one another

(sometimes unintentionally)

Employing phrases or words

That are often disproportionate

To the issue at hand

In a stake of one-upmanship,

A fit of rage,

Or an unsightly surge of testosterone.

“Choose your words carefully”

Our mothers rightly taught us.

Do not bring shame to your family,

Or provide evidence of a poor education,

Or an undisciplined life.

What would Jesus do?

Postmodern Christians beg to question

(ad nausium).

The better question is,

What is Jesus saying?

This is probably the better quest to embark,

For this question leads us from

What did Jesus say?

– Past –

to What is Jesus saying?

– Present –

leaving us with the question

What are we going to do about it

in the future?

In other words how does Jesus change our behavior?

Jesus is teaching the crowd,

Preaching a well worn

And repetitively familiar sermon;

Choosing his words very carefully,

‘Making every word sing,’

As my Homiletics professor once taught and encouraged.

“Blessed,”

He says.

What does blessing mean?

If I, as your friend, say to you,

“Blessings to you,”

You know that you have

my approval

my hope for all things good

to come to you

and those you love.

It is a wish,

A desire,

Filled with goodwill and kindness.

If I, as your pastor, say,

“Blessings to you,”

(as bishops, priests, and deacons have done thousands of years)

then it means something more:

It is a formal blessing of the Church

To be given the special status

As being favored by God.

Being favored by God;

Allow those words,

For a moment,

To sink in.

This does not mean that we should

Go on a quest to win God’s favor

For what we are already doing?

Wouldn’t that be a reflection of

Our will

Surpassing God’s will.

(Not a good thing)

What it does mean

Is that we must

Seek first the Will of God

Then,

Submit ourselves to God’s Will

Completely.

When our submission

Intersects with God’s Will

The Christian life experiences

Blessings,

An infusion of holiness,

The fulfillment of the Divine hope.

We are transformed

From mere observers

Of current events

To faithful disciples laboring

On Christ’s behalf.

We become active participants

In the conversion of the world.

And, isn’t that where we

All seek to be?

Divine holiness and

God’s personal hope

Are given through

the carefully chosen

words of Jesus:

Blessed,

He says,

are the poor in spirit.

Blessed,

He says,

are those who mourn.

Blessed,

He says,

are the meek.

Blessed are the hungry and thirsty.

Blessed are the merciful.

Blessed are the pure in heart.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Blessed are the persecuted.

And blessed are you,

when you make a stand,

and take the stand

for me.

I see and hear a lot of people

Who wave their hands in the air

And say

they want to be more holy,

or

they want to be more like Jesus every day.

Nice words,

I think to myself.

Show me.

It is only superficial talk

If those waving arms are not put to work

Reaching out to those

Most vulnerable

And those

Most in need;

People like those

Listed in these beatitudes.

We give Jesus

Only lip-service

If we continue to accumulate wealth

And leave our brothers and sisters

Further and further behind

Living in poverty,

Fighting over our table scraps.

We fail to be an obedient people

And an obedient Church

If we give a stone

to those who hunger for bread

Or polluted drink

To those who thirst for living water.

We condemn ourselves

When we fail

To search under every rock,

behind every tree,

And to the depths of every cave

For peaceful solutions

To the turmoil and violence

that fills our globe.

In this era that lifts high

The value of self-promotion

And super-sized ego,

We Christians are called

to journey the road less traveled.

We are called to substitute out

The world’s values

And to import

and put to use

The values of Jesus Christ:

Peace and justice,

Charity and forgiveness,

Protection and safety

For the least, the lost, the most vulnerable.

The Holy Spirit infuses these values

Deep within our soul

At our baptism

… this is my blessed son or daughter …

when we share the bread and the cup

… this is my body, this is my blood …

and when our souls leave our worn-out bodies

ascends into heaven,

to be greeted by Christ himself

with words of blessings,

“Well done, good and faithful servant,

Enter now into my heavenly kingdom.”

Adieu

Is the word the French have chosen;

Adios,

Or A Dios,

Is the Spanish contraction

Of Vaya con Dios,

Which is

a fond or tender

Blessing.

It is a blessing

Meaning

Go with God.

When we leave this table

When we leave this place,

Let us bid each other Adieu:

Go with God

That we might take God

into the world.

Amen.

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