St Matthews Digital
What do we mean by?
17 February 2019
Helen Jacobi examines Jesus’ teaching in Luke 6:17-26 “the Beatitudes” and explores how we deal with tough words like “blessed are the poor”
Rev Cate Thorn
Have You Seen?
24 December 2019
Christmas in the dark
17 February 2019
25 September 2016
Faith in the city
03 April 2015
Good Friday sermon "Silence"
10 November 2019
24 December 2021
01 March 2015
Being a prophet
02 October 2016
Challenging our faith
15 December 2019
God for an exile
25 July 2021
Auckland City Mission and St Matthew's
Meditation & Prayer
Arts and Music
users can comment on a video.
I think you're all brave souls turning up for church, this morning brave, because by being here, you have to listen to this gospel, from Luke, Blessed are the poor and woe to you who are rich.
Very uncomfortable staff, woe to us, who are rich woe to us who are full and woe to us. Those whom others speak. Well of the outlook for us is not good.
I sit for a long time this week with this reading thinking well what are we going to say about this? Then do we want to be beaten up by these words? Sure we're rich but we give away some of our money don't we? We help others. So doesn't that make it okay?
Well, welcome to the Gospel of Luke. This reading today with its list of blessedness is called the Beatitudes. And Matthew has a version of the Beatitudes which was written more for People Like Us, Matthew, softens them and spiritualizes the blessings. He says blessed are the poor in spirit.
Please, sir. Who blessed are those? Who recognize their poverty of spirit, their need for God in their lives. Matthew says, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness? Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are the peacemakers Matthews Beatitudes are a lot easier, but that is not the way that Luke tells it.
Luke is going to make us uncomfortable all year. We're reading, Luke all year, we've had Mary's Magnificat. We're going to have the Rich Young Ruler. Who wouldn't give up his positions? The rich man, who goes to hell? And the poor man, Lazarus, who goes to heaven. We're going to have the man who builds his barn full of grain and then dies suddenly, we're going to have the wedding guests who can't be bothered coming to the wedding Feast because they're so wealthy. And we're going to have Zacchaeus the tax collector who has to leave.
His job, Luke always emphasizes Jesus teaching on the poor, so there's going to be no Escape for us this year.
However, it always does help. I think to understand a little bit about the setting and the way the story comes about and I think it makes Luke's gospel slightly easier to kind of carry with us, but only a tiny bit, the way, Luke tells this part of Jesus story, Jesus has been traveling for quite a while with his followers and the Pharisees. The religious leaders of the day are keeping an eye on him. And just prior to today's passage, they have Hold him up for picking Grain on the Sabbath which was not allowed because it's work and they have pulled him up for healing, a man on the Sabbath and in the synagogue, what's more? Which was also forbidden because it is work. The Pharisees we are told are filled with Fury at these sacrilegious, actions of Jesus.
And so, Jesus Retreats for a night and goes up the mountain to pray to get away from the heat of the Pharisees Roth.
And some of the disciples go with him. And while he's there, it's then that he selects the 12. The 12, special Apostles or disciples has 12. Chosen Few, who are to be the center of his life. They are no doubt. Excited thrilled. They are the chosen ones. Wow.
But then as they come down the mountain, they see the crowds and as Luke tells that it's masses of people Gathering wanting to be close to Jesus needing something from him. And the disciples are afraid. They've already seen the demands placed on Jesus, people throwing around him all the time. They see that he has no home that he travels all the time. He has no money. He only has the food that people bring him.
So, maybe they're beginning to wonder, hang on a minute. We've been chosen to be special, but what about our families? What about our businesses? It's a reasonable question to ask, what are we going to do about all of that? They're attracted to this dynamic dynamic, man, in his teaching, but giving up everything to follow him as that really what this is all about.
and so, Jesus looks at them and he says, Blessed, are you who are poor? Because you've given up everything to follow me. Yours is the kingdom of God, right here, right now.
And you who are hungry and her worrying about what we're going to eat. Blessed, are you for? You will be filled, not only with food, but with love.
And you who are Weeping and mourning because you're leaving behind your families to follow me, you will laugh. You will laugh with joy in this new family and yes for sure. People are going to hate you on my account. They're going to hate you big time. They were revised you and defame you. But my blessing will sustain you.
But over there, you Pharisees standing in the back criticizing and cursing. Well, woe to you. You might be rich now, but that's all you're ever going to have your bellies are full now. But there will come a day when you will hunger.
And you might laugh and scoff at us now. But you will weep one day and woe to you. If you listen to the false Praise of your people, they don't really mean it. Their ancestors, praise the false prophets.
Just the same. And where did that get them?
So you can imagine the kind of temperature in the crowd is tuned up. A few notches. Are people silent?
Are they reacting? What are they doing? Do the ferret, the Pharisees Melt Away into the crowd, or do they stay and try and have another go.
And what about the disciples are? They going to feel encouraged by this? I'm not sure. Maybe they're going to feel more scared.
They are presented with Jesus being incredibly clear and very bold but there's not the storytelling Jesus, not the compassionate Jesus who's healing, someone or caring for someone who is ill. This is Jesus, the prophet standing in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets and naming things as they are.
It's like the Prophet Jeremiah who tells his people to be like trees with their roots in the water, not cut off from the stream, the source of Life. The Prophet Jeremiah warns. The people that they are they are risking being like trees in the desert where they are going to die in the drought.
And so it is for Jesus disciples getting their job descriptions. And for us, if we dare to be his followers today, He says, do not allow yourselves to be shrubs in the desert, but be like a tree planted by the water. Your roots need to drink of the Waters of justice and compassion.
Drink of the waters and our reading of scripture and our prayer, and our community sharing and our worship and our service.
We need to be continually reminded and helped to follow in the way of Jesus. So we need to drink those Waters.
And we can't do it alone, which is why we have bravely turned up today to hear these challenging words.
What will help us move away from standing with the Pharisees? Ensnared, by their sense of privilege.
What will help us stand with the poor so that we are reminded of our own dependence on God.
Well, being here might help being honest with ourselves and with each other, that will help allowing the words of Jesus and the words of a liturgy to sit with us and roll around in our heads this week.
Giving ourselves some time and some space to seek God's spirit.
And then perhaps being a little bit, gentle with ourselves.
Because we all know we're far from perfect.
Being gentle with ourselves and then encourage and encouraging each other to continue to seek God.
Because if we keep going with that search then we will be like a tree planted by the water sending out its roots by the stream, we will not fear when heat comes and our leaves will stay green.
In the year of drought, we won't be anxious and we won't cease to bear fruit.
That is until we come back next week and look for be telling us that we have to love our enemies.
But I guess that's next weeks, preachers problem.