You might be a Disciple
It is worth noticing that this is the FIRST public teaching of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. [Karoline Lewis. https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3155%5D Karoline Lewis compares the Gospels, for Luke Jesus goes back to his hometown of Nazareth. The scholar’s punchline – that’s a new minister’s ultimate nightmare,
preaching at home for the first time.
For the Gospel of John, Jesus’ first public act is changing water to wine at the wedding in Cana. John sets the tone for his theme of Christ’s abundance. These “blessed are…” statements are called the Beatitudes
And they define WHO the faithful, the disciples, are. In the next three Sundays you will notice that Jesus shifts his focus from “who” are the disciples to what they are to be doing, and where.
I wonder how this could ever be translated into a script for a recruitment advertisement on television or radio. Poor in spirit? You are part of the Jesus team. Are you arrested falsely for doing the right thing – you are Jesus Team material. Mocked? Derided and slandered? You are among the faithful elite.
I’m not at all trying to be flippant or irreverent but rather making the point that for Matthew, speaking to the masses of people on that Sermon on the Mount Jesus was, and is, establishing the character of disciples. People who are committed to living faithfully, often at great cost, and he is establishing a blessing upon them for that character.
David Lose says: “if our congregations became places where we recognized that God always comes where we least expect God to be
– amid our brokenness – in order to bless that which the world refuses to bless, to love what the world calls unlovable, and to redeem that which the world does not believe merits saving?” [David Lose. http://www.davidlose.net/2017/01/epiphany-4a-recognizing-blessing/%5D
Blessed are you, Elva, grieving as you surely are, yet you still quietly do such kind things for people around you; among your ministry is calling people to make sure they are doing ok. Yours is the kingdom of heaven.
And Judy, blessed are you for listening so attentively to people. Teamed up with Marlene, you create such a wonderful space for kids to learn to find their singing voices on Thursdays. You truly are yourselves beloved children of God.
We could celebrate the humility, the care, and yes, even in our brokenness, how we love and heal. At Presbytery, our Conference Executive Secretary, Will Kunder, took time to give thanks for our Patricia Gould. Patricia, who would be the first to question her gifts,
truly would merit being declared blessed, risking the criticism of some for lifting up Affirming Ministries, she helped us to see a glimpse of the Kingdom… a place where the least, the vulnerable, the marginalized
would all be given the pew of honour at Trinity United.
Jesus, preaching that Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, is the Christian Scriptures echo of Moses on a mountaintop delivering the 10 Commandments to the Israelites.
Today’s Gospel reading is a powerful and defining moment for Jesus, but even more importantly – a defining moment revealing who the disciples are. Not great, revered people who are the movers and shakers. They are the people who grieve, who pursue peace, who dare to speak up or act in solidarity, and at great risk. Because that’s just what they do.
You know, I have seen some wonderful people here participating in worship over my 10 years serving here. Some modern disciples at Trinity who now have passed away. But some of the faithful who seem most remarkable to me have been the little ones, almost every year, brothers and sisters whose parents were sleeping in, but those children walked to church, sometimes in pajamas. God’s Spirit never ceases to surprise as it inspires people we least consider “disciple” – catches us off guard, challenges us, because someone we really dislike needs our help…or the Spirit decides that it is YOU or me, named among the blessed…broken, lost as we are. Amen