How Blessed Are We (really)
In Monty Python’s movie Life of Brian, there’s a small but funny scene where a man is standing in the crowd proclaiming, “Blessed are the Greeks,” and “Blessed are the cheesemakers.” The writers might have been joking when they wrote the lines, but still, it tells us something about God’s character. And the power of God’s Word made flesh.
Jesus is this unassuming rabbi blessing people who never expected to be blessed. They don’t expect it because they’re not the kind of people society thinks are worthy of such a great honor. Whether the beatitudes are new to you, or you’ve heard them a hundred times, there’s a good chance you’re thinking, “Sure, they’re beautiful concepts but how realistic are they really?” Or worst, you simply disregard them believing you’re not worthy of such a holy blessing.
Let me take a second to remind you that Jesus blesses us, not because we deserve them, but because that’s just what he does. It’s in his nature. He just wants to give us a way to live right with God. And chooses to use blessing as a way to get us there - to see who we truly are in the eyes of God.
In her book “Accidental Saints,” Nadia Bolz-Webber imagines Jesus looking at the crowd and “extravagantly throwing around blessing as if grew on trees.”
She writes, “Maybe the Sermon on the Mount is all about Jesus blessing all the accidental saints especially those the world didn’t seem to have much time for: people in pain, people who work for peace instead of profit, people who exercise mercy instead of vengeance.”
Maybe you know these people – the ones the world doesn’t always admire. Maybe that’s you. Again, maybe you think you don’t deserve to be blessed – believing you’re not good enough, or poor enough, or meek enough to receive God’s love and grace.
But here we have Jesus blessing you saying, You are good. You are worthy. You are enough.
watch the message here
How blessed are you that when you feel powerless, or believe you’re a little nobody in the world, Jesus blesses you, nonetheless. And yet, the world still covers its ears and closes its eyes, and turns its back ignoring God’s Word made flesh.
I’m not just talking about those who simply don’t believe any of this is true. If we’re being honest, most of Christianity has ignored Jesus’ words and the things he did – “healing people; demanding justice; embodying inclusion, compassion, and a nonviolent way of living.” (Rohr)
Thankfully, there have been those “Accidental Saints” who truly and faithfully believed the gospel is more about being Jesus than worshipping Jesus.
One such saint was Francis of Assisi who actually believed Jesus meant it when he said the kingdom of heaven has come near. Hearing this, Francis changed his thinking. And embraced his Christlikeness, by going out among the poor and living into this blessedness by being a blessing to them.
Imagine what the state of our world could be today if we took Jesus serious enough to become little incarnations, “throwing out blessings as if they grew on trees!”
This begs the question how can we worship God if we don’t trust God’s Word enough to live it out in the world?
Jesus invites us to follow him, to imitate his ways, so that God’s glory can be seen and felt and embraced by all. We do this by embracing and being a blessing to others.
According to Megan McKenna, this means offering “deeper mercy for those who experience more divisive misery, deeper blessings for those whose hope is dimmest...More than a religious attitude, the beatitudes are a social attitude toward realities that should not exist among humans.”
These blessings we are given are an invitation from Jesus himself, to participate in God’s kingdom. They call us out into the world to be little Christ – the incarnation of God’s love. Jesus has entrusted us with his ministry. He sends us out to the spaces between to be God’s love in the flesh.
Jesus, the Word of God, challenges anyone who dares to follow him to pick up the cross - to walk in his footsteps, blessing everyone we pass along the way. For the blessings we receive from God are the very blessings we are to be for God.
Again, you might not think you’re good enough to receive God’s blessings muchless give God’s blessings. But that’s simply just not true.
In her book An Altar In The World, Barbara Brown Taylor reminds us “the world is just waiting for you to recognize the holiness in it.” She encourages us to “welcome to your own priesthood, practiced at the altar of your own life.”
We need not worry or be afraid because through Christ, God has provided us with all the love needed to bless the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the dying.
With God’s love in us, we can honor the poor in a way that empowers them. We can offer mercy and forgiveness to those who have hurt us.
As Jesus knows, there’s a good chance people will ignore you, put you down, or speak lies about you. But instead of getting angry or seeking revenge, Jesus says, “Be glad. You’re in good company. God’s prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble” (Mt. 5:12 MSG)
If you want to get things right in the world, or in your own life, perhaps it’s time to let God’s Word direct the way you live by receiving and being a blessing to others.
Jesus, God’s Blessing made flesh, shows us the way to be in the world without being of it.
When we model our lives on his, peace will prevail; all will be comforted and everyone will have their fill; mercy will be shown to us; and the kingdom of God will reign, now and forever. Amen.
Adapted from Our Blessedness by Ian Macdonald on July 25. 2021 (accessed on February 1, 2023).
Bartlett, David. L. and Barbara Brown Taylor, eds. Feasting on the Word, Year A, Vol. 4 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2011).
Bolz-Weber, Nadia. Accidental Saints: Finding God In All The Wrong People. (New York: Convergent, 2015).
McKenna, Megan. Blessings and Woes. (Orbis Books: 1999).
Pagano, Joseph S. The Beatitudes and Barriers, All Saints Day. Nov. 01, 2017 (accessed on July 23, 2021).
Rohr, Richard. Scripture as Liberation, (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2002).
Taylor, Barbara Brown. An Altar In The World. (Norwich: Canterbury, 2009).
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An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”