There Is Another Way

Epiphany 4A: There Is Another Way

Matthew 5:1-12

January 28, 2017

 

The message of the Beatitudes..

The message of these 9 blessings that Jesus declares

at the beginning of his “Sermon on the Mount,”

is that there is another way.

There is a different way to live.

 

I imagine that if I asked you to name some ways in which you are blessed right now,

you might name some things that bring you joy or comfort:

Family and friends;

A job; food on the table; good health; a place to live.

Those are blessings.

 

But they’re not at all blessings Jesus talks about here.

 

Jesus says blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn,

the meek, the pure in heart,

those who are persecuted on Christ’s behalf.

 

Jesus calls blessed not those who fit in with the world,

but those whom the world rejects;

 

He calls blessed not those who are loved by the world,

but those whom the world says we should fear.

 

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services

has resettled over a half million refugees and immigrants

since its founding in 1939.

It all began when refugees came to the United States

from war-torn Europe.

 

It started by sponsoring Lutherans leaving Germany,

but not long afterwards LIRS began to serve all refugees – not just Lutherans.

 

In the 60’s and 70’s we resettled refugees

from China, Cuba, Uganda, and South Vietnam.

 

Later we helped with refugees from Mexico and Iraq,

and throughout the world

depending on the need.

 

Most recently, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services has been at the forefront

Of helping families from Central America, Syria and Afghanistan

resettle in the US.

51% of refugees are children.

The LIRS website is filled with stories of these families.

 

In an interview with NPR after the recent executive order

banning immigrants and refugees from certain countries,

Linda Hartke, the executive director of LIRS was asked

why Lutherans resettle refugees and immigrants.

 

She said,

“It is deeply ingrained in our faith and our understanding of the Bible that we’re called to welcome the stranger and love and serve our neighbors.

“Not the neighbors that we choose, but the neighbors that God gives to us.”[i]

 

In the beatitudesm the blessings, Jesus calls us to a different way to live:

He calls blessed not those who fit in with the world,

but those whom the world rejects;

 

He calls blessed not those who are loved by the world,

but those whom the world says we should fear.

 

Some 20 years ago, Apple computer had an ad campaign they called,

“Think Different.”

 

On TV, billboards, magazines, the sides of city buses, (this was before social media)

there were pictures of iconic people who have made history in the world

because they dared to “think different.”

 

There were pictures of Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi…

Steve Jobs toasted them all, saying:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”[ii]

 

We are here to worship a God whose mission

is to change the world.

Perhaps we are also here because we’re crazy enough to think we can be part of that change.

 

These beatitudes – these blessings that Jesus declares – are meant to be revolutionary.

They’re meant to make us ‘think different.’

 

Jesus gathers his disciples around him and he says –

Blessed are they…

 

Some Bibles translate the Greek word makarios to mean ‘happy’;

But that’s not quite it –

it means something more like ‘honored’.[iii]

 

Jesus gathers the disciples and says this is what the kingdom of heaven is like – this is what a community of God is like[iv]

 

The community of God is made up of people who are poor in spirit – who are spiritually empty;

Who can say with all honesty,

“I’ve got nothing God – it’s up to you.”

Blessed are they…

How honored are the poor in spirit because they will be filled.

 

Jesus continues.. the. community of God is made up people who are meek –

not doormat meek –

but those who are oppressed and yet pursue the way of nonviolent resistance.

How honored the meek, because they will inherit the earth.

 

He says the community of God is made up of people who mourn and lament

not just for individual losses,

but for the state of the world and how far we’ve are from God’s intentions for it.

How honored the ones who mourn, because they will be comforted.

 

The community of God is made up of those

Who hunger and thirst for righteousness against all other odds;

Of those who are merciful – who do acts of mercy,

putting their faith into action.

How honored are they for they will be filled and receive mercy.

 

The community of God is made up of those who are pure in heart –

who have the single minded devotion to what is the will of God

and are willing to be peacemakers – even to the point of being persecuted.

 

How honored are they.

Honor honored are all of them whom the world dishonors.

 

The beatitudes are for what Steve Jobs calls the crazy ones.

The rebels. The troublemakers.

The ones who see things differently.

 

The ones who see a neighbor in the face of an immigrant.

The ones who see Jesus in a refugee.

 

Blessed are they.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

[i] http://www.npr.org/2017/01/27/511997346/trump-refugee-ban-clashes-with-faith-based-groups-religious-missions

[ii] http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20140127JJ.shtml

[iii] http://leftbehindandlovingit.blogspot.com/2014/01/honoring-dishonored.html

[iv] With thanks to the Pulpit Fiction podcast: http://www.pulpitfiction.us/

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