I struggle to know what to write in this continuing contemptuous, divisive time in our nation’s history. The obvious thing to say is that I am deeply mourning this brokenness, as are many of you. I can also say, as can many of you, that I am praying for our country and for our leaders. I hope we can all say that we are praying not only for those of our own party or persuasion, but for all concerned. Jesus taught that. We can do no less.
I am thinking of the bumper sticker from a few years ago that said, “God is not a Republic….nor a Democrat.” Let’s all remember that. Jesus was not a member of a political party. He identified with the poor, the weak, the marginalized. He refused power plays and politics. And yet his teachings have had and do have repercussions for the use and abuse of power and politics.
One of the strengths of First Church is that we are bound together in Christ’s love beyond politics and parties. The love of God transcends those things, and, yet, our lives in the daily world are affected by those things. How do we live for Christ as responsible Christians, faithful Christians, even brave Christians? How do we avoid the “us” vs. “them” mentality that seeks to suck us in and have us draw lines in the sand and proclaim that “we” are better than them, “we” are right and “they” are wrong, “we” are in and “they” are out? How do we remember that we are all sinners standing in need of the grace of God?
This Sunday we begin a 3-week focus on the Sermon on the Mount. We’ll be reading Matthew during Lent this year, but here’s a preview of what is perhaps Matthew’s best known verses. Much has been said and written about the Sermon, but, simply put, it describes a way of life for the followers of Christ. Some have said that Jesus described a way of life that is beyond most people. Some believe it was meant only for a selected few, like the disciples, or monks or nuns. I think it’s irresponsible to write the Sermon off as something for someone else—I think it was meant for all of us who profess to follow Christ. It is, to be sure, a high calling.
This Sunday we’ll focus on the Beatitudes, which begin the Sermon in Chapter 5. “Blessed are those who…..” What does it mean to be “Blessed?” Who are the blessed? What do we learn from these Beatitudes about the way of life Jesus taught and lived? We’ll dig into questions like these, and then we’ll go to the Lord’s table for the bread and cup, because we need spiritual sustenance to live the life to which Christ calls us!
Remember, our greatest allegiance is to Christ, and our true security is in the One who is always with us, who never fails us, and from whose love we can never be separated!
See you Sunday,