Friday, February 04, 2011

the blessed way

When I was growing up, it was the tradition in many Presbyterian churches to read the Ten Commandments before the prayer of confession in worship, and after the prayer, we would hear the Beatitudes.  While personally I think it was one of those ways to teach these passages to folks, both readings only served as weekly reminders as what a screw-up I was.  After all, the preacher didn't have to go much past the 2nd commandment to catch my attention on my mishaps of the previous week, while the 'blessings' only reminded me of the kind of life I was supposed to lead, but usually fell flat on my face trying to follow.

After all, it was pretty clear that in the world's eyes (and baditudes) that Jesus wasn't very realistic.  Poor in spirit sounds laudable, but it meant getting pushed around a lot.  If you were meek, you were seen as a doormat for those around you.  Hungering and thirsting for fair play sounds very commendable, but you could expect to be chosen last for one of the teams on the playground.  And peacemakers could expect to pick up a bloody nose or two along the way.

But if, as some commentators believe (and I agree with them more and more), the Beatitudes are not so much calls for us to go on a strict righteousness diet, or walk around with our eyes cast to the ground, or to act so pious it makes everyone want to throw up.  No, they are Jesus' affirmations of those who, perhaps not knowing they are doing so, are already a part of the kingdom he is bringing in.  If that is true, then maybe we should come up with some new beatitudes for our time.  Here are some of mine.  Who might be showing you the blessed way?

Blessed are the dog-walkers,
   for they shall discover the kingdom's streets.
Blessed are the asylum seekers,
   for they shall be a home for others.
Blessed are those who read to children,
   for they shall plant seeds of wonder.
Blessed are those who weep for the homeless,
   for they shall be shawled in God's grace.
Blessed are those who stock food pantries,
   for they shall taste God's hope.
Blessed are those who bring in the marginalized,
   for they shall be called bridge-builders.
Blessed are the faith-full foolish,
   for they shall be called the clowns of God.

© 2011  Thom M. Shuman

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