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2016-10-30 Trinity 23

SERMON – Trinity 23 30th October Beatitudes


Some will argue that there is a secret to happiness that has long been recognised throughout history, and also by most of the world’s major religions. This secret of happiness is not of course, universally accepted, and I suspect that many of us, here this morning would not agree with it either.


The true secret to happiness is not to hold tightly to whatever it is you want, and not to come up with all kinds of schemes for getting it. The true secret to happiness is to let go what you want and accept life as it is


You can call it what you want:       trusting God, letting go, being enlightened


 There is something about letting go of our obsession with getting what we want, and accepting what life brings us,  that opens us up to be able to enjoy the goodness all around us. And in turn, it opens us up to relate to those around us with compassion, even those we may or may not “like.”


When we can dare to look at another human being with compassion, even someone that we struggle to like, or get along with,  we can let go all our fears,  all our preconceived ideas, and just see another human being who is struggling to find happiness.


When we can see in this light, we can also begin to care about their well-being. This in turn means that we care about their peace and justice, and we accept our calling to relate to them with integrity.


One of the reasons why this approach to living remains so utterly foreign to us, is that it requires that we accept the fact that we are not perfect, but we are ALL flawed and broken people.


We need to accept our basic vulnerability to life. We need to do this in order to let go and embrace life as it really is. Most of us find this extremely difficult, if not totally impossible, AND, most of us spend a lot of energy and effort trying to avoid been seen as such, for whoever wants to be seen as or recognise failure?


Many of us will find this  language strange and very unappealing, but, and I realise that this us a very big but, if we can accept our own failures with integrity, it can become a gift. It can be a gift, in that it can enable us to accept the humility of looking foolish, of being broken of being flawed, of being vulnerable, of not being perfect. In a very real sense, failure can enable us to embrace the vulnerability of being human


Throughout the ages, many have recognised the profound wisdom that it is only through accepting our vulnerability that we find the path to peace, the path to blessedness, the path to life and true happiness.


This idea finds expression in the Gospel reading of Jesus’ and the “Beatitudes.”  Many of us hear these verses as an outline of behaviours that we as Christians are not only called to seek, but to demonstrate.  But as I see it, this is NOT necessarily the case here. Jesus is giving us a description of what is. He is NOT giving us a commandment. What he is saying is that such people are blessed of God.


It’s as if Jesus is saying: If you are one of those: who mourn, who are peacemakers,

who are merciful, who pure in heart etc, etc, then, whatever others may think,  your life will be a blessing to God, and your life will benefit you for doing these things. This, says Jesus, is simply the way things are



If we are honest though, this is not the world we have made for ourselves. And so we live by those other beatitudes:


Blessed are the well-educated, for they will get the good jobs.


Blessed are the well-connected, for their ambitions will be fulfilled.


Blessed are you when you know what you want, and go after it with everything you’ve got, for God helps those who help themselves.


What Jesus is proclaiming here, and showing us is a new way of seeing, a new way of naming, and so a new way of being. What we now call  The Kingdom of God


Until that day, when the Kingdom comes fully, the Beatitudes stand as a daring act of protest against the current order.


As those who seek to follow Jesus we are called to a different vision of life. We are called to spend our lives working to extend God’s mercy, to the left out, the down trodden and the oppressed in this world; to seek to establish God’s peace and God’s justice for all the disenfranchised, and all the dispossessed of this world.


We are called to align our lives with those whom the world despises and rejects and this will ultimately mean  that we too will be despised and rejected because of our commitment to God’s mercy and peace and justice.


We may not like these words, but we cannot avoid the truth they confront us with. The only way we can truly embody Jesus’ vision of God’s kingdom, for God’s justice and God’s peace is by opening ourselves to accept life as it is


We need to embrace our own vulnerability to the pains, to the losses and to the disappointments of life. If we can do this, then, we can relate to all around us with compassion and integrity



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