The Beatitudes

With great humility and vulnerability my sermon manuscript for Sunday June, 2011.

Sermon Text Matthew 5:1-12

Grace to you and Peace from God our Father in heaven and our lord who blesses us richly every day of our life!

As humans, we have a tendency to do the same things over and over and over again, sometimes we expect different results, and other times we are happy with no change at all, we want stability and predictability in our life… for instance we have the propensity to drive the same way to work for years… even though there are different routes that we can take… Some call this proper planning and understanding of traffic patterns and the shortest distance between two points… or maybe we are in a rut… traveling the same roads the same way over and over and over again…So..

How do we know when our life is in a rut… when we fail to notice the beauty of the world around us as we drive to where ever we are going, we fail to notice things that have always been here… We could drive to work on the same road for years and fail to see the people and places, and when we do notice them well, it is probably because they inconvenienced us in some way… We can know we are in a rut when the fabric of this world becomes only a background to our life…

Before anyone gets defensive or storms out because I claimed that we might be in a rut because of our particular driving habits… I want to tell you there is hope… think for a moment… have you ever played the game punch buggy no punch back, well if you haven’t go home and Google it, there is an official website and official rules, to this car ride game… it is simple if you see an old type 1 VW Bug, you punch the arm of a fellow passenger in the car, in a Christian gentle way, and yell sportingly punch buggy! It seems to me that once the brain becomes aware of what we are looking for, those exact thing just jump out at us… you begin to notice almost everyone drives one and they are all over the place…

So pastor what is the point of this childish game that can be played on the way home from church this morning… Because God created our brains in such a brilliant way, when someone points something out to us, our brain captures that image and then it is like we become hyper aware of that and see things that we may have never seen before… like the VW Bugs on the road… or pink flamingo yard ornaments, or maybe what about the homeless person that sleeps on the street corner, or the tent village that can only be seen when the trees loose its leaves…

You see when we give into our sin and brokenness the walls of our rut get higher and higher, we ignore the things happening around us and we become merely rats running a maze called life… high walls and only a prize up ahead, just around the next turn… This is a reality, of this broken world, we get wrapped up in the mentality that having money, being wealthy, is prosperity and that these are the ultimate goals… we drive the quickest routes to work so that we can work for 8 – 12 – 15 hours at a time so that we can bring home the cheese… the world wants us to think that the only way  to live is keeping our focus on gaining power and wealth, so that we can store up grain for a rainy day… but this is not the way that God wants or created us to live…

God wants us centered on God, not our jobs, not our vices, God and God alone… Just like being stuck in a rut and doing the same thing over and over and over again, driving the same way to work, doing the same things at home, participating in the same services on Sunday, putting the same amount of money in the offering plate for the past ten, twenty, thirty years…. Reading the same scripture and thinking the same way about it your whole life… maybe we could be in a rut both personally and spiritually…

I have a confession to make; I too have been in a rut with this text we are reading this morning… the beatitudes.. I have heard them preached and taught about the same way my entire life, and if someone said something different well, it didn’t make much of an impact… I was always taught these are blessings for the time when the kingdom of God comes and we are all gathered on the mountain with the Lord, with all the saints… those who mourn will be blessed, those who make peace… etc etc.. This week God tore through the walls of my rut and I saw this text with new light, and saw that maybe… The Beatitudes are not just hope for the future… Rather, these words that Christ spoke to those who sat at his feet are more than, Blessed are the poor, the grieving, the humble, peacemakers, etc… etc… but are a call to action, a call to change our attitudes, turn from what the world wants us to focus on and climb out of our ruts and see with a new lens…

Jesus, through the beatitudes turns the world upside down… Blessed are the meek, poor and the grieving… for they will inherit the world and theirs is the kingdom of heaven… not the survival of the fittest… smartest… strongest… Christ is telling us that the beatitudes are more than hope for the second coming of God; they are also a way of life for the children of God, right here, right now. As children of God, disciples of a risen lord, we bring the kingdom of God near to all we encounter, at work, home, the grocery store, church and these beatitudes are to be lived out, to be shared with others today and every day that they might through us encounter the divine…

God loves us so much that God breaks through the high walls of our ruts, no matter how deep…and reminds us that we are a loved and blessed people, and as disciples of Jesus Christ… we are not to sit back and relax in the comfort that we have built around us… We are expected to reach out and be a blessing for others…

We, the people of God, get the joy and the privilege to live the beatitudes, meaning we get to live with an attitude of blessing out in a world that is broken and decaying… Because our future is secure in Christ, because God first loves us… we get to be blessings for others… In our baptism into Christ…God richly and uniquely blesses each of us, not for our own joy and benefit, but so we will be a blessing for others… You see we get live our whole lives as a blessing… we get to be blessings to the poor, the needy, the outcast, our neighbors and friends, to loved ones…

  • We bless those who mourn not by pitying them, but comforting them…
  • We bless those who try to make peace by working with them, supporting them and working for justice and peace for all…
  • We bless others by hungering to know more about how God is at work in our life, so that we can show and tell others of God’s work in this world….
  • We bless others by reading, studying and questioning the bible so our faith grows and we share the story of God’s redemptive work in this world…
  • We bless others by sharing our faith stories so that they might come to know Jesus Christ…
  • We bless others by humbling ourselves and becoming a servant to others…

When we do these things that run counter to what the world believes… we will be persecuted… maybe not burned at the stake…. But we will be hated… people will talk unspeakable things about you behind your back… and we are called to bless them as well… and lift them to Gods care and grace.

So as you leave this place, know that God loves you, God is with you and God is calling you out of whatever rut you are in…Because God has empowered you to open your eyes and see the world with a new light…. A light that shines in the darkest places of this world… the places this world doesn’t want you to see… see the needs of this church, our community and all the places that you go and discover how God is calling you to be a blessing for others…

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