Bread – Blessed

February 25, 2013


Readings for Monday, February 25, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Ruth 1:1-14; 2 Cor. 1:12-22; Matt. 5:1-12; Psalm 106

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In today’s reading from Matthew, Jesus begins his “Sermon on the Mount” with the Beatitudes. In one sermon a long time ago, these were referred to as the “Attitudes” you should “Be.” Every one of them is a description of who in the kingdom of God is “blessed” – those who are “poor in spirit,” who “mourn,” or “are meek,” who “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” who are “merciful,” who are “pure in heart,” who are “peacemakers,” and “who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” Matt. 5:1-12.

Blessedness has a common denominator – you, with God’s help, put pride in its place, subordinated to an “attitude of gratitude.” Blessed people are people who know where their bread really comes from, where their safety really comes from, where their life (both now and hereafter) really comes from, where their wealth, honor, power, and hope really comes from. They don’t necessary have answers to every problem, but they know that the answer does not lie in themselves. They are blessed because God blesses them and because they do not act in ways which block or interfere with receipt of the blessing. They take their blessings from God and not from themselves or their neighbors or the world, and they are therefore truly blessed.

This does not mean they live well according to worldly standards. In today’s reading from Ruth, a Moabite pagan (more than likely, because Naomi tells her to go home to her family and her “gods”) chooses to subordinate her life to that of Naomi, the Jewish mother-in-law, and to support her. This requires Ruth to “glean” the fields (a poor person’s way of permissible self-help) without expectation of any real thanks or benefit, other than having enough food to live another day. Yet in her “poverty of spirit,” Ruth is blessed with being redeemed by “type” of Christ, a kinsman-redeemer who runs the risk of sacrificing his good name to bring Ruth into the family of God, an integration so complete that Ruth is in the line of genealogy for King David and Christ Jesus.

But it does mean that they live well according to eternal standards.

It is very easy to read the story of Ruth and say that that is nice for her, but hard for me. It is very easy to read the list of Beatitudes and say that that is nice for them but hard for me. After all, it is hard to be “poor in spirit” when we are well-educated according to worldly standards, when we are wealthy according to worldly standards, when we are powerful according to worldly standards, when we are important according to worldly standards.

It is very hard, because we want so much to believe that we are it, that we are the stuff out of which the universe is made, that we are king. The world tells us that these things are important and then organizes our life so that slowly but surely, what we have is discovered to be a chimera, here today and gone tomorrow. Over time, what appears to be real power, real wealth, real importance, turns to dust. God tells us the exact opposite, that these things are not important. When we adopt the beatitudes, the way of blessing, and realize that these things are not important, God then so organizes our life so that slowly but surely, we get them – but this time for real. Instead of the “here today, gone tomorrow” promise of the world, we get the “gone today, here tomorrow” reality of God. Over time, what appears to be a life absent of wealth, power, and importance in God turns to a real life of real wealth, real power, and real, eternal importance. With God, we turn in the fake to obtain the real. With the world, we surrender the real to the fake.

The world knows that it is a shill selling lies, and therefore it attempts to ridicule those people of God who give the truth away for free. The theory goes that, if people are thought of as silly or stupid, then no-one will listen to them.

But there is a problem with this because when we repeat God’s words, it is God who speaks and not us. So we can be reviled all day long, but the truth will still poke through the smokescreen of insults. All we have to do is to remember that it is not our battle to win because it has already been won on the cross.

Are you feeling blessed today? No? Why not? Maybe it is because you are not “being” the right “attitude.” When we deserve the worse (which we do) but are given the best (because God wants to), then how can we be anything but blessed?

Are you feeling blessed today? No? Maybe you need to change positions by subordinating your will to God’s, by exchanging a spirit of “heart-richness” for a spirit of “heart-poorness,” by stepping down from your throne of self-actualization and handing it to God, who really is a better King than we are.

Are you feeling blessed today? No? Maybe it is time for this prayer – “Come Holy Spirit and take over….now!”

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© 2013 GBF

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