Nov. 3, 2019
Feast of All Saints (transferred)
Then Jesus looked up at his disciples and said:
“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.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. ”
Something to Do
A Different Interpretation
Read Eugene Peterson’s interpretation of Luke’s Beatitudes and see if it shakes loose a new understanding for you.
From The Message:
You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.
You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.
“Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this.
But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made.
What you have is all you’ll ever get.
And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself.
Your self will not satisfy you for long.
And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games.
There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it.
“There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.
“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!
Love your enemies
Is there anyone giving you a hard time lately? Maybe you wouldn’t call them an enemy – or maybe you would – but someone who is on your nerves or making life more difficult than it needs to be; someone who is unkind or unhelpful to you or to the world as you understand it?
How can you love them? Is there something nice you can do for them? A gesture of friendship or of cooperation? What prayer could you offer for them?
Something to Wonder
Blessings and Woes
Once again, Jesus flips things upside down from what common sense would have us believe – hunger brings joy and plenty bring suffering.
Is there a time in your life when things felt flipped upside down like this? A time when it looked like you had reason to be sad but instead were joyful or a time when it looked like you should be joyful but instead were sad? What was the situation?
You want me to do what!?
The to-do list at the end of this passage is pretty daunting – there is a lot of self-sacrifice and counter-cultural responses being asked of us.
- Which of those things seem most difficult to you? Why?
- Which seem most possible? Why?
- Do any of those things seem simply wrong or irresponsible? If so, which and why?
Something to Learn
Turn the other cheek – perspectives on Christian pacifism
Pacifism has a long and complicated history in the Christian tradition, with many versions and many arguments for and against those various versions.
Ted Grimsrud is a Mennonite scholar and pacifist. Read his discussion of Christian Pacifism in Brief (not actually that brief) on the blog, Peace Theology.
The BBC has many resources on the subject – begin with this article on the Christianity and the ethics of war and just keep following the hyperlinks.
In a post for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the the Southern Baptist Convestion, Joe Cook provides A brief Introduction to the just war tradition. (actually pretty brief)
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.