B is for Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are central to my faith as a Christian.  They can be found in two Gospels  Matthew 5:3–12 and  Luke 6:20–22.

Here is the version from Matthew:

 ‘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.

Here is the version from Luke

‘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.

I love the beatitudes because they remind me over and over again that we live in an upside down world.  Over and over again we are told that we have to be pretty, strong, smart, successful, rich, funny, and good looking.  If you are not these things, some people will tell you that God is punishing you!!  Let me be clear, that is not true.  What the beatitudes tell us, what God tells us is that we are perfect just the way we are.  Sure, we should read books to be more educated, we should work out to be healthy, we should save more money than we spend so we can live a comfortable life.  However, if we don’t that does not mean God loves us any less.

In fact, what Jesus is doing in both Matthew and Luke is blessing people.  All kinds of people.  Jesus does not say “all the rich people come over here, where are all the good looking people at?”  In fact not only is Jesus calling out to everyone, but he points out that those who are down-and-out, extremely vulnerable, and at the bottom of the ladder people should be at the front of the line.

Why?

Because God ALWAYS shows us where we least expect to see God, even in blessings.  God is with the poor, the sad, the meek, and the peacemakers.  This is not where citizens of the ancient world look for God and, quite frankly, it’s not where we first look either. If God shows up here, with the weak and the vulnerable, then God will be everywhere.

I don’t believe we always hear this message.  In fact, I don’t believe we always feel blessed by God when we feel weak and vulnerable   These are the times that we feel God is furthest away.  I want you to know right here and right now…….God loves and adores you, God wants the very best for you, not only is God with you when you feel hurt, lost abandoned or poor, but those are the times God is closest to you.

As you read the words of the Beatitudes also hear the words of blessing.  Whenever you feel down and out and in need of prayer, remember these words:

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you,

and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face towards you

and give you peace;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

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