Friday, January 27 2023
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The Spirit of the Beatitudes
“The feast of Epiphany invites us to listen to the voice of God and step forth on a spiritual pilgrimage; to enter a new secular year forgetting all that lies behind and ignoring all that seems reasonable today; to trust in the possibility of God’s dream…” (John H. Westerhoff III, A Pilgrim People)
We continue our epiphany journey - pilgrims listening to and learning more about God, as God is revealed to us through Jesus. What does the Kingdom of God look like and how can we grow more fully into Easter people. Before Easter, however, we must make our way through the darkness of Lent. Growth is never easy. Our pilgrimage path may not be clear or straight. You may remember experiencing physical growing pains as a child. But even as adults, we are being called to step out of our comfort zones – out of safety to trust that God’s plan through Jesus is one in which we as individuals become blessed. We do not do this alone. We are called to grow into Christ’s likeness within this blessed community – to pay attention for God’s activity in and around us, making it possible to reveal the present reality of God’s Kingdom to others in our midst.
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus chose to preach his longest sermon on a mountain top? Moses also ascended a mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. Those commandments were about creating social order in our world – important and necessary. The eight Beatitudes, however, bring us to a different level of consciousness revealing the idea of grace. How to grow in humility as we seek to become a blessing to others. Who IS this Jesus. What IS His kingdom all about? Important enough to preach from the mountaintop – not just to his recently called disciples, but to all within hearing. We remember mountaintop experiences.
All of us have been called by Christ – or we wouldn’t even worship together in this beautiful and hospitable community called St. John’s. But as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians, while none of us is perfect, God does call each of us, imperfect as we are to point us in the direction of Christ crucified. Skill and wisdom that seem so important to the world do not get us into the Kingdom – simple faith does. Christ is the one who has made us acceptable to God.
The Beatitudes open for us a vision of the Kingdom of God that moves beyond the 10 commandments. They are counterintuitive to the ways we operate in the world. We have been called to be humble and faithful. As we pay attention to and follow Jesus more closely we too will go beyond the letter of the law to its more profound spirit to develop the habit of thinking, acting, and loving like Jesus. We will forgive one another, give up our own need for power and control and make space for all peoples. When it seems impossible, be reminded that all things are possible with God. May you be blessed!
“Sometimes I need only to stand where I am to be blessed.” (Mary Oliver)
Peace as we journey together!