Message from Pastor Carol
Light of the World
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 falselyon my account. (Matthew 5:1-12)
For the Jews in the first century, being blessed was evident based on lifestyle and social positioning. If you had health, wealth, notoriety, power, and/or popularity, you were obviously in God’s favor. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus leaves the wilderness after being tempted, calls his disciples and begins to redefine favor. You were blessed when you were poor, mourning, meek, hungry, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers and persecuted. What a radical word for these first students! Blessedness was to be understood from the position of insight drawn from deprivation or suffering or meekness. What!?!
How does that translate today? It means we must not allow ourselves to believe the notion that our lives are to be defined by external accrual but rather by internal maturation. We run after much in our lives that we allow to become the indicators of our blessedness – fitness, lifestyle, social/political credence, and even religiosity. Our mantra can often be, “When I have ‘_____’, I will be successful.” Based on the scripture above, Jesus would call us into correction. Our blessedness is experienced when we are being grown and stretched. In other words, we will experience deep and sustaining joy, satisfaction and peace when we focus on our process more than our agenda; our journey more than our destination; our living more than our accomplishments. We are called to pay attention to the daily experiences of life and allow ourselves to grow in wisdom, insight and capacity. These are the attributes that give us the greatest blessings in life and the only gifts that cannot be diminished, lost or destroyed.
When we are focused on the lessons we are called to learn, the growth we are given the opportunity to experience, and the relationships we are given to deepen, we cannot lose. Our blessedness comes in the discovery found through living instead of through the mastery of a cultural, religious, or political rightness. Jesus’ redefining of blessedness calls us from a potential perspective of narcissism to evolving perspective of righteousness. We move from needing to have the right answer, the right opinion or the right agenda to seeking ways of being merciful, opening our heart, and offering peace. I pray when we engage in debate, share on Facebook, blog and tweet, we can share our “blessedness” and not our “rightness” so that God’s grace shines through our spirits.
14 “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good [process] and give glory to God.” (Matthew 5:14-16)