You are here

Beatitude

Preacher: 
Rev. Quinn G. Caldwell
Date: 
Jan 30 2011
Scripture: 

Transcript

He had barely started.
Just begun.

His ministry: new.
The movement: nascent.
His powers: untested.
The Disciples: few.

He had only just begun
way up there in Galilee, the middle of nowhere.
Way up there in Galilee,
where everything changed forever.

He had only just begun,
But the word spread, and the crowds came
The crowds came limping, madding
Begging and demanding.
From the cities and the towns,
the Jews and the Gentiles,
from the mountains and the coast
overlarge, overburdened, overwrought,
and they said, “Help.”

He had just begun, and the crowds came
with their demons and dementia,
their dis-ease and their distress,
and they were too many
for just one man—
even just one man who was God—
to save alone.

So he climbed a hill
and sat him down
and looked around,
and he began to preach.

He lined up prophets and proverbs
And poets and Psalms.
Promises, pronouncements,
Covenants, commandments,
and statements,
and he said,

“Disciples, here’s a true thing.
Apprentices, believe this:

Blessed are the poor in spirit.
Blessed are they that mourn.
Blessed are the meek,
And they that do hunger.
Blessed are they that are parched
for righteousness.

Blessed the merciful
Blessed the purehearted
Blessed the peacemakers
and the persecuted
and those that the world hates
because they believe in me,
and I say things like this.

Blessed are the last,
Blessed are the least,
Blessed are the lost.
So may it be, amen.”

And the Disciples?
The Disciples hadn’t yet learned
his tricks.
So they sat at his feet
and repeated after him
like schoolboys at their desks:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
Blessed are they that mourn,
Blessed are the meek,
Blessed are the hungry and the thirsty
for righteousness,
Blessed are the merciful…”
Right on down the line.
Such good boys,
such trusting souls.

And I wasn’t there,
and the story doesn’t say,
so I don’t know,
But can’t you just hear
Someone in the back that day
Raise her hand and say,
“So what?”

Can’t you just hear her ask,
“So what does that mean?
My reward is in heaven,
There’s pie in the sky,
It’ll be all right in the morning?
Or did you just call
my dead husband a blessing?
Or did you just call the Roman occupation
good news?
Or did you just tell me to bless
the fact that I’ve never
tasted righteousness?”

And I wasn’t there
And the story doesn’t say
So I don’t know,
But don’t you think
He had an answer ready?

Don’t you think
he said,
“I sure am glad you asked.”?

Don’t you think
He lined up
prophets and proverbs
And poets and Psalms.
Promises, pronouncements,
Covenants, commandments,
and statements of God,
and don’t you think he said,

“They’re not blessed because Heaven’s coming,
Or because love will win one day,
Or because God will rebuild—
though it is, and it will, and He’s gonna.

It’s not promises.
It’s not magic.
It’s not sweet sweet hope—
though they’re all in there deep.

The Beatitudes
aren’t just platitudes—
they’re you.

Here’s the answer
Here’s the solution
Here’s they key
Here’s why they’re blessed:
It’s you.

Light to the nations,
City on a hill,
And herald on the mountain
Anointed by the Spirit
and called before the womb:
It’s you.

Disciples, here’s a true thing.
Apprentices, listen up:

I have a plan.

Look at that crowd
with their demons and dementia,
their dis-ease and their distress,
overburdened, overwrought, overlarge
too many
for just one me
to save alone.

And so I have a plan.

But first I should tell you this,”
he said.

“Be careful what you bless,”
said Jesus,
“for a blessing is a bond.
It’s a promise and a covenant,
 a sending and a sign.

Don’t you think—
don’t ever think
a blessing is just words.

This is the
Star-kindling
World-making
Earth-shaking
Dead-waking,

Light-creating
Dark-abating

Source-of-all-that-loves-and-lives
power of God we’re talking about here.

Did you really think you could
Call that power down and not be changed?
Did you really think that you could
channel that in blessing and not be chained
forever to the thing you blessed?

What would ever make you think
That God would bless at your command
and not use you to fulfill your own demand?

So be careful what you bless for,
and don’t you think—
don’t ever think
that you can bless and leave.

Your blessing is your covenant,
your sending, sign, and bond.

And should the Star-kindling
World-making
Earth-shaking
Dead-waking,

Light-creating
Dark-abating

Source-of-all-that-loves-and-lives
choose to bless at your command,
you can be sure
that you will be part of the plan.

So disciples, here’s a true thing.
Apprentices, believe this:

This crowd is overwrought,
overburdened, overlarge for just one little me,

You said, ‘Blessed are the…’
So I give you my Spirit;
now the blessing be.”

[pause]

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for I am sending you, Peter,
to build the kingdom of Heaven
right here on earth.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for I am sending Andrew
with comfort in his hands,
and soon I will give him a story
about the death of death forever.

Blessed are the meek
for I am sending my disciples to
bless and win the world for gentleness.

Blessed are the hungry and thirsty for righteousness,
for I am sending James to invite them to
join the revolution of oppression’s dissolution.

Blessed are the merciful,
and blessed the pure in heart,
for I am sending Magdalen
to bear them mercy’s start.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for John is on his way
to baptize them,
beatify them
for the ending of dismay.

And blessed are the persecuted and reviled,
for I am sending out my church,
my army of kindness and gentleness,
and the Spirit of the Lord is upon them,
and they are calling Heaven to the world
to transform this mortal swirl.

Disciples, do you get the point?”
he said.
“Crowd, am I making myself clear?”

These beatitudes aren’t platitudes.
Not indicative—
imperative
transformative
generative
promises you made.

Now.
I wasn’t there
and the story doesn’t say
and so I don’t know,
but here’s how I think
that Jesus knew
just who would be blessed.

I think he looked back
at the prophets and proverbs
And poets and Psalms.
Promises, pronouncements,
Covenants, commandments
and statements of our God.

And then I think he turned
and looked down the ages
scanned all the years,
peered right through the centuries
and saw Disciples sitting here
right at his feet.
Saw apprentices gathered around
To hear a true thing,
a something to believe.

I think he saw you in his plan.

So believe this:

Blessed are the last,
Blessed are the least,
Blessed are the lost
for God is sending
Old South Church in Boston,
drenched in the Spirit,
to blessing be.

“Believe this,”
says the Christ:

“Blessed are the most vulnerable
children in Roxbury,
for I am sending Erin Hull
and Doannie Tran and Kim Nicoll
with the keys to the storehouses of wisdom
in their hands to teach them the future.

Blessed are the elderly and isolated,
for I am sending Judie and Ely Pierce
and Charlotte Simpson and Friendship Works,
and Mark Schueppert and Jim Hood,
Barbara Hohler
and Jim and Jan Monsma,
I’m sending them out
with tender hands and strong backs
and my own heart to love and learn
from the elders
till they know they are not alone.

Blessed are them that mourn,
for the Card Crew and the Meals Crew
and the Old South Knitters are on their way.

Blessed are the meek,
for Alliea Groupp and GBIO
are about to organize them
into a force to be reckoned with.

Blessed are the hungry in Brighton and Allston,
for the Deacons just voted to use the Christmas Eve
and New Year offerings to buy new freezers
for the Allston Brighton food pantry,
and our food collection basket is packed with juice.

Blessed are those that are persecuted
for standing against homophobia in Uganda,
for Old South is sending prayer after prayer
and letter after letter
and dollar after dollar
to support Pastor Frank
and protest the death of David Kato,
who has surely inherited the kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are those who have no place to be inside
when it’s 20 degrees outside
for God sent the ancestors to build this place
and you to keep it open, and heated, and dry,
and welcoming for any who need it.

Blessed is that whole dis-eased, distressed crowd,
for I am sending my people
my Spirit
my church,
and we have only just begun.

Good Christian disciples,
here’s a thing that’s true:

If the beatitudes
are more than platitudes,
it’s because God’s chosen you.

Amen.