Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sermon: Epiphany 4A

I was once asked to provide what they called an “Invocation” at a political event a few years ago. So I chose for the bible reading the passage we just heard from Matthew’s gospel, popularly known as “The Beatitudes.” I wanted to offer the crowd a different vision than what usually passes for political discourse.

Later that evening, a politician came up to me and thanked me for reading the “softer” Beatitudes rather than the “harsh” Ten Commandments.

I held my tongue, but what I was thinking was, Were you paying attention? There’s nothing SOFT about the beatitudes! The Ten Commandment are a mile easier to live by than these 12 verses in Matthew.

I guess somewhere along the line the beatitudes became domesticated. Pretty little religious words that offer comfort without challenge. Spiritual poetry to calm our anxious hearts.

How we hear the beatitudes depends largely on where we’re sitting when we hear them.

Where are you in Jesus’ list? Are you the poor in spirit, struggling to find evidence of a loving God in a harsh world? If you are, then Jesus says that you are blessed?

Are you mourning? Jesus promises comfort...some day.

Are you being persecuted? Then rejoice in your pain! You must be an awesomely faithful person!

That’s where it gets a little weird, and probably where the he lost the crowd. But he may have lost others a long time before that. Who wants to be blessed the way Jesus says to be blessed?

Theologians struggle with the beatitudes. They wonder what they could possibly mean. Lutherans have...(whole thing here)

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