Friday, October 3, 2008
Blessings and Woes
Then he looked up at his disciples and said:‘Blessed are you
who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
‘Blessed are you who weep now,for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you,
revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your
reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors
did to the prophets.‘But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
‘Woe to you who are full now,for you will be hungry.
‘Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
‘Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
This is my first full day in the diocese of North Dakota. I arrived yesterday, on a warm and sunny fall day and got a chance to explore the city of Bismark for a little while. With great excitement I am here to work alongside Bishop Smith and the people of the Diocese as their journey together following Christ. They have welcomed me and I am so glad to be in their midst. I expect I will learn as much from them as they can from me.
The passage from Luke assigned to this day is very helpful as a place of beginning for me. At each transition and change in our lives, we can see ourselves as hungry or filled. In need or in no need. We can have known blessings and woes - all at the same time. Jesus was teaching his disciples how to understand the ministry ahead of them. And for us who might be at a cross roads, or beginning a new journey, Jesus comes with us to that place and reminds us that serving God is not a glamorous business, it is a sacred one. It is about encountering real human suffering, living through hard times with the trust that even what might seem difficult now, God is actively finding a way to turn it into great joy. Following Jesus is not for the fainthearted. Not for those who want a smooth ride, and complete comfort at all times. It is for those who have known troubles and who have known God in the midst of those times.
Today, I want to stand at the cross roads with Jesus. I want to set my expectations aside and open my eyes and heart to the people I encounter today. Blessing is on the horizon for us all. I want to remember, today, that the Creator is more creative than I can imagine, possessing endless capacity and possibility. I am only called to respond to the lead of a wonderful God. A god who puts us in the midst of community and who calls us to rejoice in the blessings that are present and the ones we can't imagine, just over the horizon. Today, I want to rejoice in being at this place knowing that blessings overflowing are right around the corner.
May we all find ways today to know blessing in our present circumstances, no matter how woe some they might seem. May we remember that God is in the midst of all of our beginnings and ending, and all the places in between. Sometimes in the messiness and awkwardness of our lives, we might feel like God is far off. But be bravehearted today, Jesus is right here with us, bringing blessing to us all.