An excerpt from a sermon by Christy Waltersdorff, based on Matthew 5:1-12.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God.”
Somewhere along the way I started signing letters with the word, “Blessings.” It is a meaningful word that wishes all good things to whomever I am writing. It has the fragrance of grace—that promise of a gift undeserved.
In Matthew’s Gospel we find a list of blessings in the Sermon on the Mount. But more than that, we find a call for action, a teaching that is counter-intuitive, counter-cultural, radical, subversive—just like Jesus, himself. It is not concerned with what is practical or possible, but calls us to turn the values of the world upside down.
“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.”
Matthew helps us to see that we can believe these impossible things because of what we know about Jesus and the God who sent him. God blesses us and asks us to bless others.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”
One of my Sunday school teachers used to say that the best way to think of the Beatitudes is as “be-attitudes.” They are ways of being—nine blessings that speak the language of grace, proclaiming truth that is the opposite of truth as the world knows it.
“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” (The Message).
In his hilltop sermon Jesus addressed those who were, right then, dealing with difficult and painful realities. “Blessed are you who are poor in spirit, at this very moment, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.” Not after you die, not two hundred years from now, but right now.
That promise remains true today. God is with you no matter what happens. You are blessed right now, and you are never alone. God is a God who cares about the meek, the mourners, the peacemakers, those who suffer.
And even as they assure us, the Beatitudes call us to live as the people God created us to be, right here and right now. They encourage us to bless each other as we have been blessed by God, as an act of grace. A blessing is a prayer. It is a gift from God. Blessed are you… Amen.
Christy Waltersdorff is pastor of the York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., and a worship coordinator for National Youth Conference. For suggestions of ways to bless others, visit www.brethren.org/volunteer, www.brethren.org/pray , and www.brethren.org/give .
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