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Beatitudes and Being Human

Central,

DEEPER FRIENDSHIPS! DEEPER FAMILY!

Last week Ryan Braley, Director of Pastorates and D4D groups, began our journey through the BEATITUDES from Matthew 5. Ryan shared how the Beatitudes embody the community that God desires to grow in His Kingdom. This week Sonja Knutson, Director of Mission, will lead us deeper into the first four beatitudes from Matthew 5:1-12.

BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT! You are blessed when you are at the end of yourself. The hymn writer declares,“Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN! There is grief that cannot be spoken when our hearts are broken. It is in the midst of brokenness that Jesus stands with us.

BLESSED ARE THE MEEK! You are blessed when you are content with who you are; a precious child of God, no more, no less.
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS! Two of the greatest energies a person can experience. Jesus said ‘my food and drink is to do the will of my Father.’
Are you beginning to understand why Bonhoeffer said, “With every beatitude the gulf between the disciple and the world is widened”? Jesus reverses our values, Jesus turns us right side up, and Jesus reminds us that reality is more than the world of five senses. This is what Nietzsche so violently reacted against. In repudiating the Christian faith he wrote, “I condemn Christianity. The Christian faith has made of every value a disvalue.” This past week I have been, to the best of my ability, seeking to be radically open to the beatitudes.

It is becoming increasingly evident to me that these beatitudes not only describe but also prescribe how to live in healthy relationships. On a daily basis relationships break down. We hurt each other in so many ways. Even when our intentions are good we often unwittingly hurt others. When the Holy Spirit reveals how we hurt others we confess our sin, our brokenness, our waywardness, our self-centeredness to God. With other people, we seek reconciliation. We try to make amends. This is the business of the Christian life. We seek and rely on the grace and mercy of God, for ourselves, and with others.

Julian of Norwich wrote, “In his kindness, God forgives our sin when we repent. Even so, he wills that we should forgive our sin, and so give up our senseless worrying and faithless fear." I don’t know about you but I find the hardest person to forgive is the guy I see in the mirror. But God does not want us to live in self-condemnation, shame and guilt. Julian wrote that, in one of her visions, she heard Christ say, "Do not blame yourself too much, thinking that your trouble and distress is all your fault. For it is not my will that you should be unduly sad and despondent."

It's really a matter of trusting fully in God's mercy, which is rich, and generous, abounding in steadfast love and joy. Let it go. Let God fill your soul with light, not shadows. Forgive others. God forgives you. Forgive yourself. Is not this one of the truths of the Beatitudes? Each beatitude is a declaration with a promise! I hope each of you will join me this Sunday as Jesus sits amongst us and speaks his word to us through Sonja Knutson. Pray for her, pray for yourself and pray for one another that we will be friends and family in Christ!
Paul Johansson

P.S. Many of you know that Jason Beaver, Director of Communications and Technology, works with the Aspect Foundation. Recently he shared a blog from the perspective of a host dad and coordinator about hosting an international student. Read it and you will discover some clues on what it means to live according to the beatitudes. May each of us keep growing in our sense of what it is to be a 'Human BE-ing' (title of Sonja's message). http://aspectblog.org/2014/10/15/memoirs-of-a-host-dad/ ​ .