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Summary: The ‘blessed ones’ are the so called experts to whom many people go to for advice; seeking fame, riches and beauty as outward signs of God blessing them; but secretly they want others to kowtow to their success. Jesus could sort them out.

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Summary: The ‘blessed ones’ are the so called experts to whom many people go to for advice; seeking fame, riches and beauty as outward signs of God blessing them; but secretly they want others to kowtow to their success. Jesus could sort them out.

Micah 6:1-8 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 Matthew 5:1-12 Psalm 15

This sermon was delivered to the congregation in St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 30th January 2011: by Gordon McCulloch (A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

“Please join me in my prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen (Ps. 19:14)

Today's reading comes from Matthew 5:1-12 "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.

Introduction:

In some cultures, especially in third world countries, there are such people called ‘the blessed ones’. They’re often regarded as holy people who appear calm, knowledge-full and in control at all times, and many people flock to these ‘blessed ones’ to gain some kind of spiritual advice or wisdom in order to help them in their troubles of daily life. They’re called the ‘blessed ones’ because they seem closer to god or godliness than anyone else.

Strangely, in our Western Society, the last person many people would go to is a spiritual advisor, a person like a pastor, an elder, or a priest.

Instead in our culture, we have different types of ‘blessed ones’. For example, people go to financial advisers who help them on the way to wealth. Or they go to health advisers in the form of doctors, naturopaths, or gym instructors. Some may seek out teachers, or even fashion gurus; who tell us what to wear and what not. And many even see their television or the internet as their ‘blessed ones’ since they offer so much advice; (whether they want it or not).

Basically the ‘blessed ones’ so many go to for advice, is anyone who shows any kind of success in what they do, as the “many” consider riches, possessions and beauty to be signs of God’s blessings. The “many” therefore tend to seek out ways to improve what they have; so we can show others that God is blessing them by their outward growth as we should therefore kowtow to them.

In today’s society however, it is certainly not “cool” to mix with someone who is poor, or handicapped, suffering or sick; as they do not project an image of someone who has it all together; as that damaging image may rub off in the person who mixes with them. We certainly do not think we can gain from them.

Let us now see how Jesus approached these issues.

From our readings today we see that Jesus does not say: “Blessed are the strong; blessed are the happy; or blessed are the rich. He does not say blessed are the fashion gurus; nor blessed are the health advisers; or blessed are those who grow and show signs of prosperity.

Jesus says blessed are the poor, the grieving, and the meek! Jesus says the blessed ones are those who are dependent on others for their spiritual life, and blessed are they who grieve for their loss.

Jesus goes on, blessed are those not impressed by their own importance over others, and blessed are those hungering and desiring the goal of righteousness, being pure in motive. I would like to think that is us by the way!

But even stronger Jesus says blessed are those concerned about others in their need; and blessed are those who endeavour to reconcile people who have disagreements, and finally, blessed are those who are persecuted and insulted because of their faith in Jesus, a reality these days.

How radical is that? How far removed are these verses from our modern day, progressive, politically correct society? This therefore gives us problems in explaining what this all means as it just appears all wrong!

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