“Blessed are the Poor in Spirit and Those Who Mourn”

Lately I have had many conversations with my three-year-old son about watching his attitude. I am not sure if he knows what this means yet, but it is something I am hoping desperately he learns and soon. You see our attitudes say a lot about who we are. They reflect the inner workings of our hearts. When we have a good attitude, it seems like we are more productive, we are more kind, we are more compassionate, we are more attune to the presence of God working in the world. When we possess a good attitude, we are more able to see the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

When we have a bad attitude, life seems to become all about us, what we have and what we do not have. All throughout the Old Testament book of Exodus we see the Israelites had a bad attitude. They complained about leaving and being out in the wilderness. They tried to take more manna than they needed. They cared only about their instant gratification.

It is so easy to fall into this trap, into this type of negativity and as we all know “misery loves company.” So, this year I have a challenge for you, when you find yourself being negative, ask yourself the reason for your negativity and then try to change your attitude. You may just positively affect the lives of other people and even change your outlook on life all for the glory of God.

As we start our beatitudes sermon series this Sunday called “Blessed: Wisdom from the Beatitudes of Jesus” we must first understand what a beatitude is. Commentary tells us that the word “beatitude” comes from the Latin beatitudo, meaning “blessedness.”[i] In Matthew 5, Jesus pronounces blessings upon the people of God for possessing divine characteristics. In other words, as Marlin Harris describes it “The Beatitudes are God’s beauty in us…it is how God wants [God’s] attitude to be in us.”[ii]

All throughout his ministry, Jesus showed that the people closest to God were the poor and those who were humble. Time and time again Jesus shared parables about those who were poor and uplifted them. For instance, the widow’s mite, also when Jesus told the rich young man that he could not follow him until he gave away all his earthly possessions. The disciples immediately left their lives and followed Christ. There is really something to this. What Christ was trying to show us is that we should always be wanting for God and seeking God.

Psalm 42:1-2 describes it this way: As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

I hope you will come this Sunday (weather pending) and celebrate the gifts of the beatitudes and also take the opportunity to remember you baptism and be thankful.

Prayer: Almighty God, help us to always long for you. Keep teaching us that discipleship is a journey and not a destination. Help us to identify with those who are poor in spirit and wear that identification proudly. Help us also to identity with those who mourn that the kingdom of God has not yet come to fruition. Today we mourn as we wait for your coming kingdom. We mourn for starving children everywhere. We mourn that seven days into the new year there have already been seven homicides in D.C..[i] We mourn that now more people die every year from opioid overdoses than car accidents.[ii] We mourn that a seven-year-old girl named Jakelin Caal, died while she was being held at the border and we mourn that adults and children are living in tent cities in the dessert, many who have been separated from their families. We mourn that our country is divided, and we mourn that our church, The United Methodist Church is divided in our understanding on homosexuality.

We have much to mourn as we witness all the hurt and trauma people are experiencing in our world. Help us to mourn alongside those who have experienced the effects of injustice and oppression, because these are the very forces of wickedness we renounce when we profess our faith and enter this covenant with you.

Even in our mourning, give us hope as we cling to the words from your Scripture in Revelations 21:4: that when Christ returns: “Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” Help us to cling to the promise of hope as we touch the baptismal waters this day and we make take on the call to bring the kingdom of God on earth through embodying the ministry of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Endnotes for prayer

[i] https://wjla.com/news/crime/police-7-killed-dc-2019

[ii] https://www.healthline.com/health-news/deaths-from-opioid-overdoses-higher-than-car-accident-fatalities#1

Endnotes for blog

[i] https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-the-beatitudes-701505

[ii] Marlin J. Harris. “The Beatitudes Bible Study: Group Leader Guide.” WestBow Press: Bloomington, IN. 2006. P. 1.

Pictures used with permission with subscription to Sharefaith.com

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