The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth, February 2

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12

The Rev. Catherine E. Schuyler

Catskill United Methodist Church; February 2, 2020

 

There is little that binds a generation together as much as their music. Play me a song that played on the bus to a track meet while I was in high school, and I’m your friend forever. As I began high school Queen came out with We Are the Champions. “We are the champions! No time for losers ‘cause we are the champions of the world.” Announcers would play it after every home wrestling meet that we won, and we won a lot of wrestling meets at Bound Brook High school. It’s among the great songs of late rock and roll, catchy, singable, defiant and triumphant. It’s still played on classic rock radio stations frequently. Because it’s the kind of feeling we love to feel – joyful in our success, surrounded by adoring fans, or at least by people who appreciate us, and unstoppable as we go forward into life.

 

Jesus didn’t sing that song, nor anything like it, in the Sermon on the Mount. He could have. He’s got crowds all around him, his new and enthusiastic disciples nearby, listening to his every word, … and he begins with Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The poor in spirit? Um, OK. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. His words are powerful. For those who are listening, really listening, he’s speaking hope. But it’s not an easy experience. In order to hear the hope at the root of the declaration that those who mourn are blessed because they shall be comforted, you have to allow your heart to feel your sadness. There are those present in that crowd who pushed their grief away that day in order to get out of the house to come to hear this preacher. Their hearts needed to know the blessing he was bestowing, but they’d have to open their heart and allow the grief that was hiding there out. With all these people around. Blessed are you who mourn, for you will be comforted. Weep, my friends. Weep. Allow yourself to feel your pain, and let others see it, too. And they will comfort you. And through them, God will comfort you.

 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Teacher, I gave up on hungering for righteousness long ago – the soldiers do what they wish, the king takes our fish and our wheat for taxes, the emperor thinks he is God and that we are nothing. There is no righteousness, Lord.” Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness, who are still willing to work and to hope, to stand up for the weak and the poor, to speak truth even if their voice shakes. For they will be satisfied.

 

Jesus goes on – blessed are the meek, blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are all those who are least likely to join in the singing of We are the Champions. This kingdom of blessedness that Jesus is describing isn’t made up of triumphant, shouting champions, or even champion wanna-bes. It’s not even made up of those who keep a stiff upper lip so as not to be embarrassed by their feelings or disappointed by hope. The ways of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus spends his ministry proclaiming are gentle, peaceful, unassuming, and sincere. Those who are blessed to be part of the kingdom are those who are willing to feel – to weep and to hope, to stay open and vulnerable to the joys and sorrows of people around them, and to find ways through the morass of pomposity and insincerity and fear and abuse of power to find peaceful solutions to problems and conflicts. This is the news that Jesus proclaims, and this is the life he lives. He goes to the cross living these beatitudes. He is willing to be vulnerable, meek in the face of abuse, persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and reviled and scorned. This poetry which we love at the beginning of his ministry is his way of the cross which we struggle with later on.

 

Ironically, we are, in fact, the champions when we embrace this way of life. The life Jesus invites us to live is the way and the truth, the path that leads to everlasting life in Christ’s love. Love is the only way, love that listens and cares, and hungers for the right; love that is pure in heart, open to forgiving and new relationships built on forgiveness; love, in fact, that embodies that wisdom we heard from the prophet Micah, love that does justice, loves kindness and walks humbly, meekly, even, with God.

 

Open your hearts, friends, to the blessedness of the kingdom of heaven. Let your heart weep and laugh and hope and care about others. And yours, too, will be the kingdom of heaven. Jesus Christ is, in fact, the champion of the world, a quiet king, a champion of love. And you are his. Rejoice and be glad. Amen.

 

 

 

Micah 6:1-8

6Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. 2Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel. 3“O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! 4For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. 5O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.”

6“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 8He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Psalm 15 (UMH 747)

1O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?

2Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart; 3who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors; 4in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the Lord; who stand by their oath even to their hurt; 5who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent. Those who do these things shall never be moved.

1 Corinthians 1.18-31

18For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. 26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Matthew 5:1-12

5When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 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 on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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