Sunday, January 30, 2011
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:1-12
I feel blessed and happy when I can wander along the beach in any season. Early in the morning or late at night it makes no difference. I have spent my life so near the water, and have grown and aged in its presence. It has power and beauty and is always a sanctuary for me, a encounter of renewal and delight. The pounding of the waves on the sand, the regular reminding light of the lighthouse, the wind sometimes fierce and some times gentle, always brings me a sense of blessing and joy. We each have places and experiences that make us feel blessed and happy, and even if we are not in those experiences at present, by recalling them, we are again smiling and hopeful.
Jesus is speaking to a crowd of folks who have known a great deal of hardship and suffering. He is not talking to the elites or the religious leaders, but to the crowds, the aching, needy people seeking a savior. To them he tells them that they are of noble birth and blessed because of the challenges they face for their faith. God is in the midst of them, blessing and renewing them in the hardest of times, and bringing love to those who have known it not.
Today, I want to pray that I hear the blessing and the joy that Christ is offering. I ask God to help me carry that message despite the challenges and the rough road ahead. I ask God to help us all to understand the blessings in our lives, even as we face the hardest challenges ahead.