Tag Archive | Beatitudes

Blessed are the Arrogant

God in the form of the Holy Spirit came to chat with me while I was in the shower this morning. The hot steaming water was pretty noisy splashing on me and on the shower door, so I’m not sure I heard absolutely everything the Holy Spirit said completely right, but here’s the gist of what I heard. She told me about a recent conversation in heaven by the three members of the Trinity – Dad, Jesus, and HS (herself, the Holy Spirit).

coffee - 3 cupsDad, Jesus, and I were sitting around the kitchen table in our home in heaven the other day, enjoying some mid-morning coffee, and our conversation turned to the Bible.

Jesus said, “I can’t believe how many translations of the Bible the people on earth have made. I understand that they just want to be sure THE WORD is as easy to understand as it can be. That’s good, but I’ve lost count of how many translations in English alone there are.”

I said, “Some of the translations – or “paraphrases” as they call the more creative ones – are really very interesting. In THE MESSAGE the writer compared the Old Testament Law to a Band-Aid [Romans 8:3]. Obviously, that may be meaningful to some people today, but I expect it will become outdated quite quickly.”

Dad laughed at that. “Well, if the word “Band-Aid” helps them understand why Jesus went to earth to heal them of their sinful nature, I guess that’s good.”

We all laughed. Then I added, “But speaking of becoming outdated, I wonder if we need to add a few more lines to “The Beatitudes” as they are recorded in the New Testament. One of the newer translations lists “The Beatitudes” this way:

bible-stackGod blesses those who realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.

God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

God blesses those who are gentle and lowly,
for the whole earth will belong to them.

God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
for they will receive it in full.

God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.

God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.

God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted too.

[Matthew 5:3-12 New Living Translation]

Jesus said, “Hey, I kind of like that translation. It expresses our values very clearly. But, what’s missing, HS?”

“Well, Jesus, I’ve been watching all of our followers on earth very closely. Some of our most vocal followers hold a few more values, and perhaps these new values should be incorporated into The Beatitudes. For example, how about adding:

 God blesses those who are arrogant,
for they shall receive even more blessings as they deserve them.

“This value is especially prevalent among young and middle-aged adults,” I explained. “They really believe that they are better than others because we have blessed them with more and better gifts.” Dad and Jesus looked at each other with some alarm.

homeless man w dogI continued, “Or, how about adding one that says:

God blesses those who refuse to give handouts to the poor,
for their wisdom in demanding that the poor and sick be forced to learn to work for a living will eventually be appreciated by the poor, sick, and elderly.

Dad spoke up right away about that one. “Oh, I don’t know about that one, HS. What about their children? I don’t want to see any children suffer. I don’t want to see the elderly suffer. I don’t want to see anyone suffer.”

“Just hear me out, Dad. I have two more Beatitudes to propose. Then we can consider all of them together before we decide what to do.”

“Okay, HS. Go ahead. What other Beatitudes do you want to propose?”

Blessed are those who make laws
for they shall be rewarded for their restraint in passing as little legislation as possible.

Jesus responded to that one. “On the surface that may look good, but what about passing laws that will help people? Our law makers should at least do that. But, go ahead, HS, what’s your last one?”

“Well, Jesus, this is just my last one for now. I may come up with others as I think more and more about what I see our followers on earth doing. But here’s the last one on my mind right now:

God blesses those who carry guns
for they shall be called peace makers.

“You’re kidding me!” said Jesus. “They use guns to shoot the people I love, don’t they?”

“Well, sometimes they do, Jesus,” I responded. “But it’s necessary to have our followers carry guns so that they can threaten other people who carry guns, to keep the bad people from killing the good people.”

???????????????????????????????????????Jesus just shook his head.

Then I added, “Oh, yeah, I just remembered. There’s one more potential Beatitude we need to add to the list:

God blesses those who protect their nation’s borders from illegal immigrants,
for they shall keep their race pure and worthy of God’s love and riches.

Dad stood up when he heard this one. He walked to the counter to get the coffee pot. He refilled each of our cups, without speaking. There were tears in Jesus’ eyes. I looked down into my cup, embarrassed.

Finally, I spoke again. “Sorry, I didn’t think this through first. Not one of these proposed new Beatitudes is about love, and that’s what the Beatitudes are all about. That’s at the core of all of our values. I need to go back to earth and start softening some hearts.”

3 children and sunset

My Thoughts on Last Weekend’s Big Event

Not the Super Bowl – Church!

Humility SandLast week, as I was planning music for church, I read the lectionary readings for Sunday, as I usually do. I was happy to see that two of the three readings were among my favorites.

The Old Testament reading was Micah 6:1-8, which ends with the well-known verse:

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NRSV)

The Gospel reading was Matthew 5:1-12, a passage commonly referred to as “The Beatitudes.”

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 5:3-12 NRSV)

Sheet Music 2 - Theyll Know We Are ChristiansAfter I read the Scriptures, I thought about what music might prompt people to reflect on living the kind of life God wants us to live. Two songs came to mind: Lord, I Want to Be a Christian, and They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love. Fortunately, I remembered a couple arrangements of those songs that would make a good prelude and postlude. All I had to do was find the music. I found both pieces within an hour, and was all set for the service – after a little practicing.

Last weekend I was scheduled to play for the Saturday evening service at Messiah. (We have three services – 5 pm Saturday, 8:15 am Sunday, and 10:30 am Sunday.) The service was so good, particularly Pastor Jeff’s sermon, that I went on the Internet to the church’s website Sunday morning to watch the 8:15 service as it was streamed live (messiahchurch.com/streaming/).

emptying ocean 9The most vivid image that’s still in my mind from Pastor Jeff’s sermon is a story he told about St. Augustine. The 4th century priest was walking along the shore of the ocean, deep in thought, pondering what God really is like. He saw a little boy who had dug a hole in the sand and was running back and forth to the water’s edge, pouring bucket after bucket of water from the ocean into the hole. Augustine asked him what he was doing. The little boy replied, “I am trying to empty the ocean into this hole.”

Augustine said, “But that’s impossible.”

The little boy responded, “No more impossible than your being able to understand the wonders of God.” Then the little boy disappeared.

The point Pastor Jeff was trying to make by retelling this legend is that we need to be humble. Humility is a virtue that underlies all the Bible readings of last weekend’s service. And it’s a virtue that is undervalued and quite scarce in our society. “To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” is what the Old Testament prophet Micah said God wants us to do.

The gift I received from participating in worship last weekend was this image. I can picture myself trying to empty the ocean with a little plastic bucket, and I’ll be reminded – that’s how little I really understand the grand scheme of life on earth and how each of us fits in with God’s plan.

I guess there’s good reason I should be humble.

emptying ocean 10