1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12
February 3, 2002
When it comes to religion this is particularly true. Here we are supposed to be dealing with GOD and with TRUTH in such a way that we can explain them and explain them until we capture what is real about life.
Unfortunately, this process usually backfires because GOD and TRUTH are not finally able to be captured.
If we were able to finally capture and tame GOD or TRUTH they would have died. These vain attempts to control meaning are as impossible as dissecting a frog to find its source of life or using cloning to bring back a loved one. The mystery of experience simply can't be adequately analyzed or duplicated.
The Beatitudes, the "blessed are you" pearls of wisdom, are more like songs than they are like rules.
In a sense the Beatitudes are a listing of the Top Ten on Jesus' Hit Parade. They give us the titles and we are to begin to hum along. We smile at the connections we make about when that old favorite of ours became our favorite. I hear couples talk about "their song" as they prepare their wedding service. How do you explain "your song?" I have yet to find anyone who can do so for very long before they say, "you just had to be there."
As Jesus talks about these blessings he wants you to remember your hopes and your dreams that are tied up with these blessing. You may not be able to explain it, but these blessings are a part of what real life is all about--they go beyond our reason or our feelings, beyond our experience or our dreams.
Listen to these refrains and smile at your recognition that the TRUTH of GOD is different than what our economists and commentators and politicians try to tell us. Life is more than good investments or policies or majorities.
You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of GOD in your life.
To let go without a visible means of support can be either desperate or trusting. Jesus was blessed, even on the cross and in his death. Missionaries are blessed, even if they fail or are eaten. You, too can be blessed, without prosperity.
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.
We always want to be the one who chooses GOD when, all the while, our real desire is to be embraced or chosen by GOD. What a blessing it is to be able to relax knowing we are embraced by a love which will not let us go, whether we are yet able to love back or not.
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.
If there is one thing which gets us in more trouble than anything else it is a sense of entitlement to more than we currently have or are. The wisdom to say that who we are and what we have is enough changes the way we interact with people and with things. Enough, already! We have enough to do great things so let's begin to do them without waiting for just a little more.
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.
This takes us back to "the end of our rope." As long as we think we have things a little under control we won't have much of an appetite for the presence of GOD. After all, we're doing alright. To reduce our ability to pay our own way by 10% is one way to better see the menu of festivity GOD offers. Tithing 10% of our income helps us work up an appetite for the fullness of trusting GOD in all parts of our life.
You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.
Now we are back at "being lost." Whether we are lost at sea or found by finding and meeting the needs of others, the over-riding reality of being a child-of-GOD is that we are cared for. No matter what, whether we are being a brat or being sweet, we are embraced and cared for. To have this assurance will eventually lead us to being less brat-ish and more sweet.
You're blessed when you get your inside world - your mind and heart - put right. Then you can see GOD in the outside world.
Now we are back to "contentment" or "enough." It is not the amount of your paycheck or your accumulated resources which measures your life. To have a "satisfied mind" puts us in a healthy relationship with all parts of life. This valuing of being an important part of creation, but not its center nor its furthest bound, reorders our relationships into mutualities. Moving ourselves from the center of the universe or off the perimeter permits us to see GOD in ourselves and in others. The outside world becomes a inviting place, a safe place.
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.
Once we come to the end of our rope dramatically enough to trust GOD and find that we have all we need, we will desire to pass this blessing on to others for it is too wonderful to keep to ourselves. Our blessings lead us to being peacemakers, to practicing the skills of cooperation. May you know you are blessed and live out of that blessing.
You're blessed when your commitment to GOD provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into GOD's kingdom.
Realistically, the monied and the policy-makers and the controllers of life won't appreciate your new life. To teach the peace-making skill of cooperation will lead the world to label you a soft-headed liberal. Your commitment to passing on the blessings you have received will lead the world to consider you foolish.
I only ask you to remember, Paul's words to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:27), GOD chose the foolish things of this world, the men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame, chose these "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of the "somebodies.
May these Songs of Blessing from Jesus remind us that we are chosen to live toward peace and cooperation even if it seems no one else understands or appreciates us.
Let us pray:
Blessing GOD, we desire to join you in blessing the rest of creation. We simply ask to be blessed toward that end. Amen.
Beatitudes as a Song
based on The Message by Eugene H. Peterson
Copyright 2002. Wesley White, Pastor of St. Luke's United Methodist Church. 1022 Caledonia Street, La Crosse, WI 54603.