Sermon 11-8-20 The Rev. Rev Van Zandt
Matt 5: 1-12 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
It has been a LONG, INTENSE four days… and while it appears that we have a president, I’m not entirely convinced that there won’t be more upheaval, protests, clashes and unrest, that have sadly become the marks of this country in this time/place.
It has also been a long eight months and while we’re ‘enjoying’ some new-found freedoms, we may have to give them up again, temporarily, to get this virus under control.
I don’t think I’m alone in seeking words of hope and encouragement in the midst of past, present and future challenges. In full transparency, I was initially planning on preaching this text last week but I just saw so many riches in Psalm 34 alone, so I decided to stay with that, AND…I also knew that the Beatitudes might be a helpful text to revisit after the election, AND right before we re-enter the sanctuary next Sunday.
Unfortunately, only some of us will be able to return in person (and it may be even harder on those who need to stay away), so I want to remind us all, that the Beatitudes offer words of encouragement and reassurance that, although you/we cannot all be together, right now, each of you are noticed and singled out by God. ALL of you are blessed NOW with gifts of mercy, hope and peace.
You may not see yourself in these Beatitudes, but God does. You may be the PEACEMAKER in your family, in your neighborhood or your job. You may be PURE IN HEART, seeking to see the best in everyone and staying out of the mud-slinging. You may be MOURNING a loved-one or mourning the loss of a marriage, relationship or friendship, or a child or grand-child who has lost their way. You might be doing acts of MERCY and being merciful over and above the way you are being treated. You may be working towards, or doing acts of JUSTICE for the name-less, imprisoned, addicted or lost.
If you don’t see yourself in any of the Beatitudes in Matthew, you’re not looking hard enough. I see them in you, we see them in each other. God sees these Beatitudes (at least one), in ALL of us. This is in spite of: our brokenness, frustration, impatient and egotistical ways that are all part of our humanity.
So friends, while we seek to keep our community connected, while we seek to keep and sustain our mission and ministry, while social distancing, these beatitudes are the perfect reminder on the blessings that God has bestowed on each of us. These beatitudes are the perfect reminder of the direction of God’s future blessings.
I know I am not alone in imagining the day when we can all worship and sing and praise God together, safely. I imagine all of your faces sparkling with joy as tears run down our cheeks, or secretly pump in our chests. What a day that will be! In the meanwhile, seek out these Beatitudes as marks of your faith and the marks of this community of faith-ALWAYS.
Scholar Charles Cousar speaks of the beatitudes not as “a sermon of wise advice and counsel of an ordinary prophet [like a preacher] given to assist people coping with life, but instead a sermon/description to DISCIPLES whom God cares for and how life is to be lived now and the in the coming kingdom”.
Thanks be to God,