First Sunday at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, a day shelter for homeless. On a week-day we serve 200+ people. We are resuming Sunday meals and Sunday worship. Coffee will be out in the main room, worship in the back room. As I read David Lose on the scripture for the day, I was struck by his recommendation to just reiterate “Blessed are you.” Those are words the people at St. Martin’s can’t hear often enough.
Here’s my sermon:
Have you ever noticed how the first words you hear in the morning can set the tone for the day? Have you ever noticed how the first words out of a person’s mouth shape your impression of that person? First words, first impressions matter. A lot.
Today we hear Matthew’s account of the first words Jesus preached.
Blessed are the poor in spirit
Blessed are those who mourn
Blessed are the meek….
Ending with “Blessed are you…for you will be called children of God”.
Think of it—to the people in the crowd, to day laborers, to folks on the road, to folks without a home, to the crippled and the lame, to folks possessed by demons, Jesus says, “Blessed are you.”
To the dispirited, the weary, the cold and the hungry, to people at the end of their rope, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” He’s talking about them.
To those who mourn lost relationships, lost lives, lost friends, lost homes, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn”.
To those who have no weight to throw around, to those who often get pushed around, Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek”
To those who often hear the words, “Get out of the way”, “Move on”, “You’re under arrest”, and to those who hear no words at all, to those who are overlooked, pushed aside, ignored, Jesus says, “Blessed are you”. How good that must have felt!
I’m reminded of a story Howard Thurman, preacher and pastor to Martin Luther King, told about his grandmother. Actually it’s a story Thurman’s grandmother told about a slave preacher who often came to the plantation where she was enslaved. This slave preacher always ended his sermons the same way. He’d look the folks directly in the eye and say with all the conviction his heart could hold, “You are not niggers. You are not slaves. You are God’s children”(1979,21) He was saying, “You are Somebody! Blessed are you.”
Jesus says to you and to me and to all of us here: “You are Somebody. You are God’s child. Blessed are you.”
That makes all the difference in the world.
“Blessed are you.”
Put that in the bank and draw on that account.