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Summary: Living life around stories

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LOOKING AT THE WORLD WITH NEW EYES

MATTHEW 5:1-16

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: 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. YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH; BUT IF SALT HAS LOST ITS TASTE, HOW CAN ITS SALTINESS BE RESTORED? IT IS NO LONGER GOOD FOR ANYTHING, BUT IS THROWN OUT AND TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT. YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. A CITY BUILT ON A HILL CANNOT BE HID. NO ONE AFTER LIGHTING A LAMP PUTS IT UNDER THE BUSHEL BASKET, BUT ON THE LAMP STAND, AND IT GIVES LIGHT TO ALL IN THE HOUSE. IN THE SAME WAY, LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE BEFORE OTHERS, SO THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS AND GIVE GLORY TO YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN. I RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING STORY IN AN EMAIL FROM NANCY MORRISON. I HAVE SEEN THE STORY BEFORE IN A SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT FORM, BUT I SAVED IT BECAUSE I KNEW I WOULD GET TO USE IT IN A SERMON ONE DAY. IT IS CALLED, BREAKFAST AT MCDONALD’S. I AM A MOTHER OF THREE AGES 14, 12, AND 3 AND HAVE RECENTLY COMPLETED MY COLLEGE DEGREE. THE LAST CLASS I HAD TO TAKE WAS SOCIOLOGY. THE TEACHER WAS ABSOLUTELY INSPIRING WITH THE QUALITIES THAT I WISH EVERY HUMAN BEING HAD BEEN GRACED WITH. HER LAST PROJECT OF THE TERM WAS CALLED, SMILE. THE CLASS WAS ASKED TO GO OUT AND SMILE AT THREE PEOPLE AND DOCUMENT THEIR REACTIONS. I AM A VERY FRIENDLY PERSON AND ALWAYS SMILE AT EVERYONE AND SAY HELLO ANYWAY. SO, I THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE A PIECE OF CAKE, LITERALLY. SOON AFTER WE WERE ASSIGNED THE PROJECT, MY HUSBAND, YOUNGEST SON, AND I WENT OUT TO MCDONALD’S ONE CRISP MARCH MORNING. IT WAS JUST OUR WAY OF SHARING SPECIAL PLAYTIME WITH OUR SON. WE WERE STANDING IN LINE, WAITING TO BE SERVED, WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN EVERYONE AROUND US BEGAN TO BACK AWAY, AND THEN EVEN MY HUSBAND DID. I DID NOT MOVE AN INCH. AN OVERWHELMING FEELING OF PANIC WELLED UP INSIDE OF ME AS I TURNED TO SEE WHY EVERYONE HAD MOVED. AS I TURNED AROUND I SMELLED A HORRIBLE DIRTY BODY SMELL, AND THERE STANDING BEHIND ME WERE TWO POOR HOMELESS MEN. AS I LOOKED DOWN AT THE SHORT GENTLEMAN, CLOSE TO ME, HE WAS SMILING. HIS BEAUTIFUL SKY BLUE EYES WERE FULL OF GOD’S LIGHT AS HE SEARCHED FOR ACCEPTANCE. HE SAID, GOOD DAY AS HE COUNTED THE FEW COINS HE HAD BEEN CLUTCHING. THE SECOND MAN FUMBLED WITH HIS HANDS AS HE STOOD BEHIND HIS FRIEND. I REALIZED THE SECOND MAN WAS MENTALLY CHALLENGED AND THE BLUE-EYED GENTLEMAN WAS HIS SALVATION. I HELD MY TEARS AS I STOOD THERE WITH THEM. THE YOUNG LADY AT THE COUNTER ASKED HIM WHAT THEY WANTED. HE SAID, COFFEE IS ALL MISS BECAUSE THAT WAS ALL THEY COULD AFFORD. IF THEY WANTED TO SIT IN THE RESTAURANT AND WARM UP, THEY HAD TO BUY SOMETHING. HE JUST WANTED TO BE WARM. THEN I REALLY FELT IT, THE COMPULSION WAS SO GREAT I ALMOST REACHED OUT AND EMBRACED THE LITTLE MAN WITH THE BLUE EYES. THAT IS WHEN I NOTICED ALL EYES IN THE RESTAURANT WERE SET ON ME, JUDGING MY EVERY ACTION. I SMILED AND ASKED THE YOUNG LADY BEHIND THE COUNTER TO GIVE ME TWO MORE BREAKFAST MEALS ON A SEPARATE TRAY. I THEN WALKED AROUND THE CORNER TO THE TABLE THAT THE MEN HAD CHOSEN AS A RESTING SPOT. I PUT THE TRAY ON THE TABLE AND LAID MY HAND ON THE BLUE-EYED GENTLEMAN’S COLD HAND. HE LOOKED UP AT ME, WITH TEARS IN HIS EYES, AND SAID, THANK YOU. I LEANED OVER, BEGAN TO PAT HIS HAND AND SAID, I DID NOT DO THIS FOR YOU. GOD IS HERE WORKING THROUGH ME TO GIVE YOU HOPE. I STARTED TO CRY AS I WALKED AWAY TO JOIN MY HUSBAND AND SON. WHEN I SAT DOWN MY HUSBAND SMILED AT ME AND SAID, THAT IS WHY GOD GAVE YOU TO ME, HONEY, TO GIVE ME HOPE. WE HELD HANDS FOR A MOMENT AND AT THAT TIME, WE KNEW THAT ONLY BECAUSE OF THE GRACE THAT WE HAD BEEN GIVEN WERE WE ABLE TO GIVE. WE ARE NOT CHURCH GOERS, BUT WE ARE BELIEVERS. THAT DAY SHOWED ME THE PURE LIGHT OF GOD’S SWEET LOVE. I RETURNED TO COLLEGE, ON THE LAST EVENING OF CLASS, WITH THIS STORY IN HAND. I TURNED IN MY PROJECT AND THE INSTRUCTOR READ IT. WHEN SHE LOOKED UP AT ME AND SAID, CAN I SHARE THIS? I SLOWLY NODDED AS SHE GOT THE ATTENTION OF THE CLASS. SHE BEGAN TO READ AND THAT IS WHEN I KNEW THAT WE AS HUMAN BEINGS AND BEING PART OF GOD SHARE THIS NEED TO HEAL PEOPLE AND TO BE HEALED. IN MY OWN WAY I HAD TOUCHED THE PEOPLE AT MCDONALD’S, MY SON, THE INSTRUCTOR, AND EVERY SOUL THAT SHARED THE CLASSROOM ON THE LAST NIGHT I SPENT AS A COLLEGE STUDENT. I GRADUATED WITH ONE OF THE BIGGEST LESSONS I WOULD EVER LEARN: UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE. BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. I HAVE BEGUN ANOTHER SERMON SERIES ON THE BEATITUDES BECAUSE SOMEONE ASKED ME ABOUT BEING SALT AND LIGHT PEOPLE. I REALLY PRAYED ABOUT HOW I COULD PRESENT THIS IN AN UNDERSTANDABLE WAY. I COULD JUST GO TO SALT AND LIGHT AND EXPLAIN IT BUT I DECIDED TO REALLY UNDERSTAND HOW WE CAN BE SALT AND LIGHT PEOPLE WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND WHY WE SHOULD BE SALT AND LIGHT PEOPLE AND THAT MEANS STARTING AT THE BEGINNING OF CHAPTER FIVE AND TALKING ABOUT HOW CHRISTIANS SHOULD ACT IN ANY SITUATION. SO NOW I WANT EVERYONE HERE TO PUT THEMSELVES IN THE STORY I JUST READ. PICTURE STANDING IN LINE TO BUY A BREAKFAST AT MCDONALD’S WITH OR WITHOUT SOMEONE ELSE BEING WITH YOU, AND IN WALKS TWO OF THE GRUNCHIEST, SMELLIEST, DIRTIEST PEOPLE THAT YOU HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION? WE SEE IN THE STORY A NUMBER OF REACTIONS; MOST PEOPLE PULLED BACK AND GOT OUT OF THE WAY BECAUSE QUITE FRANKLY TO THOSE PEOPLE, THESE PEOPLE WERE BORDERLINE SUBHUMAN AND IF THEY INTERACTED WITH THEM THEY WOULD HAVE THEIR HUMANITY REDUCED. THEY PULLED BACK IN REVOLTION, THEY PULLED BACK IN DISGUST, AND THEY PROBABLY PULLED BACK BECAUSE OF THE APPEARANCE AND ODOR OF THESE GENTLEMEN NOT WANTING TO BE TOUCHED OR NEAR THEM. AND YET, SADLY THIS IS AN UNDERSTANDABLE REACTION. THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HOMELESS USUALLY HAVE OTHER PROBLEMS BOTH MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY AND MANY PEOPLE ARE FRANKLY AFRAID OF THEM. WE ALSO SEE THE PERSON BEHIND THE COUNTER WHO DOES WAIT ON THE MAN WITH THE BLUE EYES WHICH I FIND ENCOURAGING BECAUSE I HAVE WITNESSED TIMES WHERE PEOPLE WE MAY NOT APPROVE OF HAVE COME INTO A STORE AND ARE ASKED TO LEAVE OR ARE COMPLETELY IGNORED. BUT IN THIS STORY THE COUNTER PERSON DOES WAIT ON THE MAN AND THEY SEAT THEMSELVES. THEN WE SEE THE REACTION OF THE LADY WHO TELLS THE STORY. AT FIRST SHE IS FEARFUL WHICH IS AN UNDERSTANDABLE EMOTION. EVERYONE AROUND IS PULLING BACK AND THEN SHE SMELLS THE SMELLS BUT THEN THE STORY COMPLETELY CHANGES. LOOK AGAIN AT THE DESCRIPTION THAT THE LADY USES TO DESCRIBE THE TWO GENTLEMEN. AS I LOOKED DOWN AT THE SHORT GENTLEMAN, CLOSE TO ME, HE WAS SMILING. HIS BEAUTIFUL SKY BLUE EYES WERE FULL OF GOD’S LIGHT AS HE SEARCHED FOR ACCEPTANCE. NOTICE THERE IS NO JUDGMENT OR CONDEMNATION THE LADY SAW A PERSON WHO WAS MADE BY GOD AND HAD WORTH. HE WAS SMILING AND HAD BEAUTIFUL SKY BLUE EYES THAT WERE FULL OF THE LIGHT OF GOD. THIS WOMAN UNDERSTANDS WHAT BEING POOR IN SPIRIT IS ALL ABOUT. REMEMBER THE LAST TWO WEEKS AS WE TALKED ABOUT DANIEL’S PRAYER WE MENTIONED THAT ONE OF THE ELEMENTS OF TRUE PRAYER IS TRUE PRAYER IS GENERATED BY SELF-DENIAL. AND WE SAID, THE HEART OF ALL TRUE PRAYER IS AN AWARENESS THAT WE DON’T EVEN BELONG IN FRONT OF GOD TO BEGIN WITH. WE DON’T HAVE ONE THING IN AND OF OURSELVES TO COMMEND US TO GOD. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO SIMPLE TO LOOK DOWN ON THESE MEN BUT SHE DIDN’T SHE SAW GOD IN THE MAN WITH THE SMILE AND FELT COMPASSION FOR THE OTHER MAN WHO WAS OBVIOUSLY MENTALLY CHALLANGED. THIS LADY SHOWED THAT SHE UNDERSTOOD THAT SHE WAS NOT SUPERIOR TO THESE MEN AND IN FACT REVELLED IN THE GRACE OF GOD THAT SHE WAS BETTER OFF BUT THAT SHE WAS ABLE TO REACH OUT AND HELP THESE MEN. THIS IS WHAT THE FIRST FOUR BEATITUDES ARE ALL ABOUT. WE MUST BE POOR IN SPIRIT WE MUST JOIN DANIEL AND KNOW THAT EXCEPT FOR THE GRACE OF JESUS’ ACTION WE WILL COMMEMORATE TODAY, WE HAVE NO REASON TO APPROACH GOD AND NOTHING TO OFFER GOD. AS I HAVE SAID BEFORE ONLY THROUGH GOD’S GRACE AND MERCY THROUGH HIS ACTION WILL WE HAVE AN ETERNAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. AND THROUGH THE MERCY OF GOD WE DON’T GET WHAT WE TRULY DO DESERVE WHICH IS CONDEMNATION THROUGH THE WAGES OF OUR SINS. AND BECAUSE WE ARE POOR IN SPIRIT, IT CAUSES US TO MOURN THE INJUSTICES AND OPPRESSION THAT IS IN THE WORLD. WE LOOK AT THE WORLD AND ASK WHY CAN’T IT BE DIFFERENT. WHY MUST THERE BE PEOPLE WITH DISEASE, WITH POVERTY, WITH HANDICAPS, WITHOUT HOPE AND BEING OPPRESSED. BECAUSE WE LOOK AT THE WORLD WE MOURN OUR CURRENT SITUATION AND WANT TO CHANGE THINGS JUST LIKE THE WOMAN DID IN THE STORY. SHE DIDN’T CURE THESE TWO MEN’S PROBLEM BUT FOR ONE BRIEF PERIOD OF TIME THESE MEN’S POVERTY WAS RELIEVED AND THEY FELT VALUED. THEY WERE WARM AND THEY WERE FED. THIS IS WHAT MEEKNESS IS ALL ABOUT. MEEKNESS IS NOT BEING SOME MEALY PERSON WHO IS AFRAID OF THEIR OWN SHADOW. THIS IS A PICTURE OF POWER UNDER CONTROL. IT IS A PICTURE OF A HORSE WHO WAS WILD BUT IS NOW DOMESTICATED AND CAN BE PUT TO USEFUL PURPOSES IN THE FIELDS. IT IS THE PICTURE OF MEDICINE THAT MISUSED CAN KILL BUT IN PROPER DOSAGE CAN HEAL. THIS IS THE PICTURE OF THE WOMAN IN OUR STORY. NOT ONLY DID SHE SHOW THE RESTAURANT WHAT A BEATITUDE LIFE LOOKS LIKE, SHE SHOWED HER HUSBAND, AND HER COLLEGE PROFESSOR AND CLASS WHAT UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE LOOKS LIKE. IT LOOKS LIKE TREATING ALL PEOPLE AS CHILDREN OF GOD WHO NEED TO BE LOVED AND LIFTED UP. AND HOPEFULLY THIS WILL SHOW EVERYONE THAT AS WE GO THROUGH LIFE WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO WANT THINGS TO GET BETTER. IN FACT WE WANT IT SO BADLY THAT IT CAN BE DESCRIBED AS HUNGERING AND TRISTING FOR GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE WORLD. WE HAVE TO WANT GOD’S KINGDOM TO GROW. WE HAVE TO WANT EVERYONE TO BE LIKE THE WOMAN IN OUR STORY AND WHO WANT TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE LESS FORTUNATE, TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, AND TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE POOR. WE HAVE TO LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO BE ABLE TO SERVE THOSE WHO ARE AROUND US. IT IS JUST LIKE JESUS ON THE NIGHT THAT HE WAS BETRAYED, WHAT DID HE DO KNOWING THAT HE WAS GOING TO THE CROSS? HE STOPPED REMOVED HIS GARMENT, WRAPPED A TOWEL AROUND HIS WAIST AND HE WASHED THE FEET OF THE DISCIPLES. THESE SAME DISCIPLES THAT WERE ARGUING WHO WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT, WHO WOULDN’T STOOP TO HELP. THE SAME DISCIPLE WHO WAS GOING TO BETRAY HIM AND THE SAME DISCIPLE WHO WAS GOING TO DENY HIM. JESUS LOVED THEM ALL AND SERVED THEM ALL EQUALLY. LET’S THINK ABOUT THIS AS WE TURN OUR ATTENTION TO SERVING OTHERS THROUGH OUR BENEVOLENCE OFFERING.


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