First Congregational Church
June 22, 2014
Second Sunday after Pentecost
“How We Are Blessed”
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
Maybe it’s been all the rain this week, but as I was anticipating the music this morning, and thinking about the scripture passage for today, the illustration of a tropical waterfall came to mind. Maybe you’ve seen one like it on television, where there is a person is normal size is dwarfed by the size of the waterfall, the water falling over the individual, usually a woman, washing her hair, and how the person is continuously doused in water.
It’s easy to appreciate the illustration, when we think about the music that has graced our worship this morning. And it’s good to be so drenched with blessings from time to time. The odd thing about our Scripture passage today, is there can be is similar drenchings of blessings, even if it don’t seem like it.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said: 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 be shown 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 because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Thank you Judy and Julie. I think most of us would appreciate the idea that we can’t force any of these states mentioned by Jesus on ourselves or anyone else. We can't force ourselves to be poor in spirit, however that would look. And we can’t force someone to be pure in heart so that they will see God.
But like the disciples that day on the mountainside, we can look around and pray to become more merciful - not that becoming more merciful will guarantee that we will receive mercy - but so that the light of that mercy can shine as an example for those who are in positions of granting mercy. We can pray about how we can be of comfort for those who mourn, and that when there is enough healing that those who mourn can become comfort for still others.
It’s probably way more a working of the Holy Spirit than mere creativity on my part, but these character traits or states are more than words on a page. So they were included on your announcement page, so you can tear them or cut them out to tape on the bathroom mirror for this week. No, I’m not going to do any checking to see if you did it. This is about each one of you - and me.
As you get ready for the day, take one of the attributes, say - those who are persecuted because of righteousness. Who do you know that is persecuted because of doing what they feel is morally right? Take a moment or two to pray about how the kingdom of heaven can come to that person that day. Then take a moment or two to think about how you can act more honorably - regardless of the circumstances. If you need to look up words like meek and righteousness, do it. It’s worth it. If you need to think about what it would mean or look like to thirst and hunger after righteousness, do it.
We will do well, in bringing this passage to life, not to fall into the idea that praying to be blessed is an end-all effort. We are blessed not just because God thinks it’s cool to do, but so that we can pass along the blessings - so that we can shine the light of blessedness on to those who can and will pass it on to others. To be such a blessing is a high and holy calling. So we’d best be gettin’ to the prayin’.
Gracious God, we are deeply grateful for the breadth and height and depth of the blessings you bestow on us. We are some times so involved with our day-to-day lives, that we forget to look for the blessings that you pour out on us. In this coming week, help us to take your message of blessing from paper - to make it a practical part of our lives. Show us the examples and models for whom we can pray, and strengthen each of those blessednesses in each of us. Thank you for your son, who showed us how such blessing can live in our human world. For all your blessings and for being a blessing, all your people say Amen.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.