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. . . Matthew 5:1-12
At the end of January we began a new sermon series on The Beatitudes.
We’re taking up these teachings of Jesus at the suggestion of one our Elders who observed something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t it be great to explore the Beatitudes in the same way we looked closely at The Lord’s Prayer this fall? The Beatitudes could be our focus for Lent.”
This comment was met with general agreement and enthusiasm on the part of our Elders and I agreed that I was willing to venture into this — for me at least — relatively uncharted territory and asked the elders if they would walk with me on this journey.
We decided that we would look at the Beatitudes one by one and — by some divine miracle — there are eight Beatitudes and eight elders! Each elder then chose one of the Beatitudes and that Elder and I began setting dates to meet and talk together.
In addition to their weekly sermon conversations with me the elders want to invite you to enter into the conversation as well.
In February and again in March we will offer three opportunities each month for you to engage in conversation with one another over a simple meal hosted by various families in the congregation.
This sermon series ends on Palm Sunday which will lead us directly into the celebration of Easter on March 27 which is quite early this year.
We are going to hear this word a lot!
As you might guess it comes from a Latin word, beatus. In classical Greek literature the “happy” or “blessed” person is “the one who knows the essential harmony which binds them to society and to the world.” And in Hebrew, the same word suggests a happiness that flows “from justice, or from having a right relationship with God.” Brother David Steindl-Rast puts it this way: “Joy is the happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.” In other words this blessedness, this happiness, this joy that Jesus describes is available to us independently of the circumstances of our lives.
So what might it mean to find blessedness or “a happiness that flows from justice, or from having a right relationship with God” when one is poor in spirit, is in grief, is meek, pure in heart, a peacemaker . . .
Together we will explore these teachings of Jesus and seek to shed light on what it means to be people of God in this place and in this time.
I look forward to our Lenten journey.