Lenten Devotional – Sun, Mar 21: Blessed

This week’s texts:

Matthew 5:10-12 (NRSV)

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12 (The Message)

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

BLESSINGS:

Today we explore how people adapt the idea of the Beatitudes in contemporary language and contexts. This example can start your thoughts about what blessings you see in the ‘upside down’ Kingdom of God. They are written by Rev Nadia Bolz-Weber:

Blessed are the agnostics. Blessed are they who doubt. Those who aren’t sure, who can still be surprised.
Blessed are they who are spiritually impoverished and therefore not so certain about everything that they no longer take in new information.
Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are they for whom nothing seems to be working.
Blessed are the pre-schoolers who cut in line at communion.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are they for whom death is not an abstraction. |Blessed are they who have buried their loved ones, for whom tears are as real as an ocean.
Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like.
Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried.
Blessed are they who don’t have the luxury of taking things for granted any more.
Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else.
Blessed are the motherless, the alone, the ones from whom so much has been taken.
Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.”
Blessed are they who laughed again when for so long they thought they never would. Blessed are those who mourn.
You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

What blessings would you add to the Beatitudes? Who has surprised you, in your lifetime, as a child of God? — Rev Gail

MEDITATIONS:

I imagine Jesus standing here blessing us all because I believe that’s his nature. Because, after all, it was Jesus who had all the powers of the universe at his disposal but did not consider his equality with God something to be exploited. Instead, he came to us in the most vulnerable of ways, as … flesh-and-blood … As if to say, “You may hate your bodies, but I am blessing all human flesh. You may admire strength and might, but I am blessing all human weakness. You may seek power, but I am blessing all human vulnerability.” This Jesus whom we follow cried at the tomb of his friend and turned the other cheek and forgave those who hung him on a cross. Because he was God’s Beatitude—God’s blessing to the weak in a world that admires only the strong. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Challenge or Question: Identify a blessing within your life. One aspect of your life for which you are grateful. Give thanks for it. Say a prayer, write it in a journal, or light a candle to acknowledge this blessing.

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