Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1-12 (Beatitudes)
–The above link will show you both the New International Version of the scripture and Eugene Peterson’s translation from the Message. It is interesting to look at these familiar words in a fresh way.
Here is a video of these verses put to song.
We thank you for teaching us and blessing us through your son, Jesus.
Thank you for being with us and loving us in our times of weakness and sadness.
Thank you for helping us show mercy and make peace.
Let us seek you with all of our hearts.
Let us share your way of love with our world. Amen.
Thoughts on the Scripture:
It can be interesting to go through each of the verses and discuss what the different Beatitudes mean: What does it look like to be poor in spirit? Pure in heart? How do we show mercy and make peace? What righteousness do we long for? How are we blessed when we mourn?
Beyond these individual points, there is a deep truth for us in the Beatitudes as a whole–the concept of being blessed.
I’m afraid we tend to read the Beatitudes as another set of commandments. A list of things to do if we want blessing. But Jesus does not say if you do this, then you get this blessing. He states the blessing as a fact: blessed are.
These beatitudes that Jesus speaks, are not about how we can be winners in God’s kingdom. Not about how we can earn our prize. We often read the Beatitudes and say that Jesus is changing the rules to the game. The winners will no longer be the arrogant, the powerful, the selfish, the violent, the shrewd. Now the prizes will go to the poor, the meek, the peace makers, the pure in heart. Jesus is setting up a new standard.
But Jesus is not changing the rules. Jesus is not establishing new criteria for winning the game.
Jesus is quitting the game altogether. And he is inviting his followers to quit as well.
In this act of extravagant blessing, Jesus exposes the lie that is at the heart of the game. The lie that says if someone else gets something then there is less for me. The lie that says if you get the blessing, then I’m out of luck.
Jesus says, “Blessed are . . . blessed are . . . blessed, blessed, blessed.”
There is enough blessing for all. There is enough earth for all to inherit. There is enough sustenance to fill us all. There is enough mercy to go around. The kingdom of heaven is big enough . . .
This word from Jesus is a word of pure, extravagant blessing. Blessing for his disciples then. Blessing for his disciples now. Blessed are you. Blessed are we. Thanks be to God.
Choose two or three of the verses and talk about what those Beatitudes mean for today. You might want to look at the parallel translations linked above and/or watch this video that provides some commentary on each verse.
–Choose one of the listed blessings you discussed and create a work of art that shows what that blessing looks like today.
–Have a time of blessing as a family. Parents could bless the children and children could bless the parents, or you could form a circle and each person could bless the person to their right. It does not need to be fancy or formal. Call your family member by name and use simple words such as: May you live within God’s blessing. May you always know that God loves you deeply. Amen.
(You can read here about the blessing ritual we did at my church.)
This article is re-posted from January, 2014.