January 30, 2011 “Where We Sit” – Matthew 5:1-12

Where we sit affects what we see.  Each of you sit in pretty much the same place week after week and when you change and sit in another place it kind of throws me.

  • Today I’m going to ask you to humor me.
  • What I want you to do is to get up and move somewhere that’s the opposite of where you would want to sit.
  • Yes, I know that means you folks who sit in the back will be on the opposite side in the front.
  • Don’t worry about the kids.
  • Fruit Basket Upset.

 

Now, isn’t this fun?  Don’t answer that.

  • I’ve stayed in the same place because I want you to see how where you sit changes

o   your perception,

o   your orientation,

o   and your comfort level,

o   even when nothing else changes

 

Where we sit;

  • how we look at things;
  • the vantage point we take;
  • the assumptions we have;
  • the culture we live in;
  • the faith we practice,
  • these things affect how we see the ourselves, others, and the world around it.
  • You are seeing this worship service from a different angle and so what you get out of it may be different than if you were sitting in your regular place.
  • You’re getting a new perspective.

 

That’s pretty much what Jesus did.  He talked about turning everything around.

  • He talked about the status quo being turned on its head.
  • He said the poor would be rich; the rich would be poor;
  • the weak would be strong and the strong would be weak;
  • he said the smart would become dumb and the dumb would be wise.
  • He said all of these things and quite frankly on the surface those statements seem crazy.

 

 

The beatitudes introduce the Sermon on the Mount, a collection of Jesus’ teachings.

Matthew places this sermon at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

Jesus breaks into the public arena proclaiming,

  • “repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17).
  • He calls his first disciples from fishing for fish to fishing for people (verses 18-22).
  • Then, he shows the disciples just what this new kind of fishing looks like, by preaching the good news of the kingdom and by healing.  Jesus is showing us that God’s  kingdom liberates us.
  • Then, Jesus climbs a hill and sits down to teach the people who have followed him.

 

5:3 “Blessed are the poor
5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn,
5:5 “Blessed are the meek
5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
5:7 “Blessed are the merciful
5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart
5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers
5:10 “Blessed are the persecuted

 

I don’t think that Jesus wanted us to be poor, or grieving, hungry, homeless or any of the things that he highlights in our scripture reading today.  I think what Jesus is saying that when conditions in our life hit bottom God is still with us – Blessing us.

 

Jesus is just plain blessing people. He is blessing all kinds of people:

  • the down-and-out; the vulnerable; the  sick
  • empty people, people who are suffering,  people who are confused and alone.
  • Jesus is blessing people to proclaim that God regularly shows up in mercy and blessing,

o    just where you least expect God to be –

o   with the poor rather than the rich;

o    with those who are mourning rather than celebrating;

o   with the meek and the peacemakers rather than the strong and victorious.

  • This is not where citizens of the ancient world would look for God and, quite frankly,
  • it’s not where citizens of our own world would look either.
  • If God shows up here, Jesus is saying, blessing the weak and the vulnerable, then God will be everywhere, showering all creation and its inhabitants with blessing.

But in order to see this blessing we need to look at life from God’s viewpoint, if you will, from a different seat.  In order to see the blessings that God gives us we need to look at life from a different perspective.

 

Think of it like this:

 

Blessed are those who realize that they are not complete, not whole, not self-sufficient..who realize that they are “lacking” in some way.

 

Blessed are those who accept their weakness, and are reliant upon God for strength.

 

Blessed are those who know life is tough sometimes, but are willing to hold fast to God when everything seems to be falling apart around them.

 

Blessed are those who do what is right, when doing what is wrong seems right.

 

Blessed are those who know that it’s our weakness that drives us to the completeness and wholeness through the love of God.

Poem : The “Be” Attitudes[1]

Be understanding to your enemies.
Be loyal to your friends.

Be strong enough to face the world each day.
Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.

Be generous to those who need your help.
Be frugal with that you need yourself.

Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.
Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.

Be willing to share your joys.
Be willing to share the sorrows of others.

Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.
Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.

Be first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds.
Be last to criticize a colleague who fails.

Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not tumble.
Be sure of your final destination, in case you are going the wrong way.

Be loving to those who love you.
Be loving to those who do not love you; they may change.

Above all, be yourself.

 

Today we’re going to ordain and install new people to lead this congregation.

  • Each of us come with our own opinions,
  • preconceived notions of how the church should be run;
  • our own bias and our own views.
  • But perhaps the greatest challenge for  our leaders is that we put aside our own desires and replace them with the willingness to take a new seat:

o    a seat where we’re willing to struggle with issues, with ourselves and with each other; a

o   seat where we’re willing to learn from one another and teach one another;

o   a seat where the most important thing isn’t what we think, or want, but what we believe God wants.

 

Some of us need to

  • practice how to listen,
  • some of us need to learn how to speak,
  • some of us need to practice new ways of thinking,
  • and others need to balance a desire to move ahead with the appreciation for what has happened in the past.
  • Sometimes we will agree and sometimes we will disagree (forcefully),
  • but the seats we’re taking are next to one another,

o    blessed and called by God.

  • We bring our experiences, hopes, dreams and fears to our leadership.
  • We will need to be willing to give up the driver’s seat
  • And stop being back seat drivers.
  • When we do, we will find the ride rewarding and blessed by God.

 

In the middle ages when someone sneezed they said “God bless you” fearing that they may have the plague, or that an evil spirit might enter a person while they breathed our.  The mantra we repeat so regularly developed as a way to ward off fear of evil, disease, and death. We say it without a thought.

 

God is offering a blessing to us.  A blessing of love, forgiveness and hope.

A blessing of  riches, comfort,

life,  mercy, vision, peace,

eternal life, and forgiveness.

God is offering us the Kingdom.  A kingdom filled with good things.

This is truly the Good News and we accept it in humility.

 

God bless you

do you hear God’s blessing to you?


“Blessed are those who continue to grow in the Lord,

for they will become God’s masterpiece”

 

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