Dear People of Christ Church,
This week I’ve continued to mull over what it means to remain spiritually grounded in such a time as this; I preached on Sunday about having God’s vision of the beatitudes to see blessing in places where the world does not. Poverty, mourning, hunger, persecution—those are not particularly comfortable places to be. But Jesus calls them blessed, and calls us to see that as well.
This is a profound discipline: we must be grounded in the vision of God’s love and power as equally as we are opposed to hatred and violence. On the one hand, spiritual sustenance is easy to understand. Of course it’s important. What actually happens when we pray, though, can use some thinking-through. Prayer brings us before God, of course. We make ourselves available to love and be loved. The other important thing about prayer is that we are better able to put struggle, anxiety, and conflict in context. Prayer helps us to widen our view. We are not the saviors of the world. We have some work to do, but it’s not up to us completely.
Hopefully, being able to put ourselves and the world in the context of God’s love, we can also do so for those with whom we disagree. In all the best activism on the part of those who are oppressed, it can be easy to forget that it is hatred and fear that are the enemy, not the people who seem to promote them. In prayer, we glimpse a unitive reality in which we are equally in need of God’s grace and compassion. Even if just for a moment! Jesus tells us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. When we are hungry for justice, we must know that even in our hunger we are being filled by the grace of God, as that hunger is God’s life living within us.
This evening, take a moment and really pray the beatitudes. Look with God’s eyes to see blessing in the world, and allow your heart to perceive it.
“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.”