A Note from Josh – May 2018 Newsletter

#blessed

What does it mean to be blessed? That is the question that my friend asked me over the phone a couple weeks ago. Simple curiosity did not birth her question. Her sister’s barren womb birthed her question. Her sister is in her mid 30’s, has struggled to get pregnant for over a decade, and upon her second round of In Vitro, the first being a failure, has finally succeeded in getting pregnant. After sharing this news with a friend, they proclaimed, “You are blessed!” She responded, “Really? What was I before? Cursed? You sure this is God? Why now? What was God doing before? Seems more like science than divine favor…”

In the Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 5) Jesus proclaims blessings over an eclectic group. He blesses the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, you, when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

In our culture, blessings typically are reserved for the prosperous, the smiling, the successful, the leaders, the winners, the pregnant, and those who are spoken of with great revere, and whose lives we are slightly envious.

Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran Pastor, writes in her book, Accidental Saints, “Maybe the Sermon on the mount is all about Jesus’s lavish blessing of the people around him on that hillside, blessing all the accidental saints of this world, especially those who that world-like ours-didn’t seem to have much time for: people in pain, people who work for peace instead of profit, people who exercise mercy instead of vengeance. Maybe Jesus was simply blessing the ones around him that day who didn’t otherwise receive blessing, who had come to believe that, for them, blessings would never be in the cards. I mean, come on, doesn’t that just sound like something Jesus would do? Extravagantly throwing around blessings as though they grew on trees?”

Google defines blessing as, “God’s favor and protection” a fine definition. Our culture says God’s favor and protection are for those who have achieved comfort, have acquired wealth, and lack nothing. Jesus disagrees. Jesus blesses those who are weak, have nothing, and need anything. Perhaps we ought to reconsider what a blessing is, who is blessed, and the God who blesses. If we are willing to give up prosperity as a marker for God’s favor and protection, we will begin to see what Jesus has to offer, for those on the hillside that day, and for our world today.

Josh

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