Beatitudes for the Ordinary Everyday

Here’s the full audio of Pastor Michael’s sermon from November 26, 2017, paraphrasing Jesus’ Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount:

And here’s a written excerpt, the Beatitudes for the Ordinary Everyday:

Blessed are you who are last in the race of life, for God is behind you all the way. Blessed are you who are the least in the eyes of others, for you are the most in God’s eyes. Blessed are you who have lost your whole world, for now God can give you your soul.

Blessed are you when you feel like you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, for that’s exactly where God is. Blessed are you when you feel like your tank is empty, for God’s strength is made just for you. Blessed are you when you feel spiritually bankrupt, for God’s bank account is more than enough for all.

You who put others’ interests ahead of your own, even when it’s hard—God sees you, and smiles. You who open doors of opportunity for others, even when it costs you—God is proud of you. You who walk alongside the lowest of the lowly, even when it hurts—God brags about you before the angels. After all, these are the things God’s dreams are made of.

Blessed are you whose heart shudders with the pain of grief, for God is with you. Blessed are you who feel your loved one’s absence like a very presence, for God embraces you. May you know God’s peace.

When you weep over the suffering in this world—the bombings and shootings, the earthquakes and famines, the sexual assaults and car accidents—know that your tears are the tears of God. When you weep over your own suffering—the stark reality of cancer, the pain of a broken relationship—know that your tears are treasured in heaven. May you know God’s comfort.

When you are shadowed by the black dog of depression—God is closer still than any shadow. When you are hunted by the hounds of fear and anxiety—God is wrapped around you like a second skin. May you know the serenity of God.

You who are downtrodden, stamped-upon, pressed-into-the-earth—one day that earth will be yours. You who’ve had the land stolen out from under your feet—rest assured, that land is your inheritance.

When you walk softly and leave aside the big stick, you are blessed by God. When you speak soft words in a hard situation, you have God’s favour. When your spirit is tender to the things of God, soft with humility, you are ready to experience God’s flourishing.

Know this: the way of God is carved deep into the earth by your gentle strength, your humble persistence.

When you are compelled to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, you are blessed. When you are prompted deep in your spirit to do right by your sister, your brother, your friend, your neighbour, your enemy—you are blessed. You are blessed, because you, too, will be treated right by others—and by God.

So if you’ve been wronged and long for things to be made right—be patient, be persistent, don’t give up! If you look around and see wrongs that need to be made right—be patient, be persistent, don’t give up! Justice is coming! God’s righteousness is near!

When you show love to the lovely and the unlovable alike, you have God’s nod of approval. God likes it, too, when you forgive that unforgivable wrong—or even just that nagging annoyance. And when you respond to cruelty with kindness—well, then God is especially pleased.

You are blessed, then, when you shower acts of mercy upon others the way God fills the earth with oxygen—with open-handed generosity and even-handed equity, no stinginess in your mercy, no prejudice either. When you give mercy like this you will find yourself getting mercy like this in return.

Blessed are you who care more about a pure heart than a clean body—that is, you care more about your own pure heart than others’ clean bodies. This is the blessed way of love: erasing artificial lines that separate, tearing down made-up walls that divide, and instead embracing others in all their smelly dirtiness—or our own.

And why is this the blessed way? Because when you scan around the edges for the outcast, and you receive her as she is, you will see God. When you search the borders for the one on the outside, and you break bread with him, you will see God. When we love one another, God is as visible as the invisible God can be.

God’s favour is upon the peacemakers—not the vengeance-seekers, or the gun-wielders, or the warmongers. “Like father, like son,” we say, “like mother, like daughter”: God is Peacemaker, and so all who make peace are God’s children. If you plant even the smallest seeds of peace for a world in which all can flourish together with God, others, and all creation, you are blessed by God.

Blessed are you, then, when you offer to mediate that dispute before it gets out of hand. Blessed are you, too, when you seek out the one you’ve harmed, or the one who has harmed you, all those years ago, and you make peace with them. And blessed are you when you make peace with the earth, with the water, with the land, with the sky, and with our host peoples, with our newcomer peoples, proclaiming peace across the divides of ethnicity and religion and culture and language and more.

If you’re trying really hard, in your own small corner of the world, to bring about greater justice and peace, and people oppose you, or even seek to harm you—don’t be surprised. That’s what happens to prophets—it happened to Elijah, it happened to Jeremiah, it happened to Jesus, it could happen to you.

If you’re following Jesus’ way of seeking justice and rejecting violence and loving enemies and eating with sinners and forgiving freely and healing indiscriminately—trust me, you will make enemies. More people to love.

But know this—when you persist in this Jesus way one day at a time, one small deed at a time, walking in humility and gentleness, doing justice and giving mercy, striving for the peace of God—you are blessed. You are blessed by God—and no one can take that away from you.

God has a dream. It’s a dream of true justice—an equity where the first are last and the last are first. It’s a dream of real and lasting peace—a harmony of all things, all people and all creation living as one. It’s a dream of flourishing life—thriving, abundant life, for all humans and all living creatures.

This dream is what Jesus called “the kingdom of heaven,” that is, “the kingdom of God” come from heaven to earth. This dream is for all of us—for you, for me, for all people everywhere. This dream, Jesus says, is our dream, too. The poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who seek justice, those who show mercy, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted—“theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

And that includes you and me.

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