Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Beatitudes

Matthew 5:1-10 (NIV)

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach 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 be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

It seems like I can't get away from the Beatitudes. I started teaching through them about a year ago at the jail. By the time we finished, all of inmates we started with had been released or transfered (such is the transitory nature of the jail population). So, we started from the beginning again. And again. It's become a cycle.

When we began attending North Seattle Friends Church a few months ago, we started participating in the "Meeting for Learning", which is an interactive study/discussion that meets from 9:30 to 11am on Sunday mornings. The group was going through a book entitled But I Tell You, which is all about the Sermon on the Mount (beginning with the Beatitudes). It has short chapters, so we would read a chapter together, then discuss it. We had a series of wonderful discussions throughout the Beatitudes.

Last Sunday, Lorraine, the pastor announced that she is going to be teaching through the Beatitudes for the next several weeks.

All of this got me to thinking this morning that maybe I should blog through the Beatitudes. I'll begin by offering Eugene Peterson's version from his paraphrase of the Bible, The Message:

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.


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