Photo by Good News Productions International
Karen Hollis | January 29, 2023
Beatitudes – 5th Sunday
Matthew 5:1-12 (Neil Douglas Klotz)
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
Turned to the Source are those who live by breathing Unity, their “I can!” is included in God’s.
Turned to the Source are those feeling deeply confused by life;
they shall be returned from their wandering.
Healthy are those who have softened what is rigid within;
they shall receive physical vigor and strength from the universe.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for physical justice;
they shall be surrounded by what is needed to sustain their bodies.
Turned to the Source are those who shine from the deepest places in their bodies.
Upon them shall be the rays of universal Love.
Aligned with the One are those whose lives radiate from a core of love;
they shall see God everywhere.
Integrated are those who joyfully knit themselves together within;
they shall be stamped with the seal of Cosmic Identity.
Blessings to those who are dislocated for the cause of justice;
their new home is the province of the universe.
Renewal when you are reproached and driven away
by the clamor of evil on all sides, for my sake.
Then, do everything extreme, including letting your ego disappear,
For this is the secret of claiming your expanded home in the universe.
For so they shamed those before you:
it is a sign of the prophecy to be persecuted by circumstances.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be reflections of your word to us today, in Christ’s name we pray. Amen
Intro to Conversational Reflection
In a moment Bev is going to read the text, but first a quick introduction to what we are reading. Whenever we read scripture in English, we are reading a translation of the original text . . . which to the best of our knowledge comes from Hebrew and Greek. The translation of this morning’s gospel is a little different, because it comes from an Aramaic version of the gospels . . . this is useful to us because Aramaic is in all likelihood the language Jesus spoke. When we look at this translation, we can’t say these are the exact words Jesus used, but it does give us a window into the way the world looks through the language Jesus spoke. Aramaic offers a wide range of interpretation in English. Neil Douglas Klotz offers several translations for each verse . . . I pulled out one translation for each to create this morning’s passage. The NRSV translation will appear along with the translation from Aramaic, so you can put each verse into context with the words that are so familiar to us.
As Bev reads the text this first time, listen for a word or phrase that resonates with you.
(Bev Reads text the first time)
What word of phrase resonates with you?
Bev is going to read the text again, after which I’m going to invite you to find 2 or 3 others near you to have a brief time of reflection before we hear a few people share with the whole congregation.
As we prepare to hear Bev read, I invite you to join me in engaging our imaginations to place ourselves in the story. Jesus travels around from town to town, meeting people, hearing their stories, healing their afflictions . . . more and more people follow after him and great crowds gather around him. In your mind’s eye, what do you see as people crowd around? What do you hear? What is the weather like? What else do you notice? As you listen, I invite you to imagine Jesus speaking not these exact words, rather Jesus speaking through his own language. What is it like to hear Jesus speaking?
(Bev reads text the second time)
I invite you to find 2 or 3 people around you for 3-4 min of reflection around the question, what is it like to hear Jesus speaking through his own language?
(wait 3+ minutes for people to talk)
Are there a couple of people want to share something you said or heard in your conversation? What was it like to hear Jesus speaking through his own language?
My last question for you this morning is for you just to think about – we’re done with the conversational portion of the reflection – the question is, “where do you recognize yourself in this text?” As you think about that question, I’m going to give it some context and shape.
Jesus pushes the boundaries of his day in many ways. He works hard to change attitudes and behaviour. And he reframes what it means to bless and be blessed. The blessing Jesus describes isn’t necessarily a warm and fuzzy experience . . . blessings seem to show up at strange moments. Mary is named blessed when she receives the disorienting news of her pregnancy; Jesus says, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for physical justice. Jesus says we will be blessed by inviting the forgotten to the fancy dinner.1 It’s really different from saying, I am blessed with good health or blessed to have family close by. In the way Jesus uses them, “blessings help us reimagine the world”2 in which we live. What if we are blessed when we find ourselves in a vantage point that is useful to building the kindom of God . . . a vantage point that can see something that needs to change in order to make the world of which God dreams. In a way, Jesus’ beatitudes describe who needs a seat at the table of change . . . anyone and everyone who can see suffering, who knows injustice, who remembers what it feels like to soften, who have felt grief and confusion . . . for Jesus, all have a seat at the table of change.
To personalize it . . . Jesus lifts up not the parts of us that are powerful or educated or have access to the package of skills that allows one to navigate the 21st century with ease. Jesus lifts up parts of all of us that have a different kind of knowing.
Where do you see yourself in the words we heard this morning? What do you bring to the table of change that partners with God to bring the kindom here on earth? What do you bring that fosters kindom things, like justice, kindness and humility? Let us wonder together as we sing.