Seeking the Kingdom

Jeremiah 17:5-10; Luke 6:17-26

Luke 6:17-26

17 He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you[d] on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.

26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Sermon

Good morning. My original title for this sermon was going to be #Blessed. If you spend any time on Facebook or Instagram or any other social media platform, you see lots of pictures of all of the wonderful things that are going on in other people’s lives: pictures of children or grandchildren; pictures from vacations; pictures of pets; pictures of new cars; pictures of sumptuous meals. If you’re on social media, eventually, you’ll post pictures of every cool thing in your life.


Some people will post these pictures with comments about how blessed they are to have all these cool things and wonderful experiences. I have mixed feelings about these postings and comments. I do think it’s great that people recognize their blessings and see God’s goodness and mercy all around them. But we always need to be careful about how we do this. It’s easy to see blessings as things we earn or deserve. It’s also easy for us to see other people’s woes as things they deserve.


Even when we don’t do this intentionally, too much public celebration of our blessings can come off as bragging. It can leave the wrong impression for those people who don’t feel like they’ve been blessed. But this sermon isn’t about all the ways I get annoyed with what people post on social media. If you want that sermon, just go to, well, social media. Everyone on Facebook will tell you what everyone else is doing wrong. Trust me on this!


Our reading from the Gospel of Luke is all about blessings. The word “blessed” is a translation of the Greek word Makarios. It means something along the lines of satisfied, unburdened, at peace, or dignified; it's a benefit that's conferred by God on someone.

Honestly, it seems like Jesus has a very different idea about blessings than we do. Jesus says: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” These don’t sound like blessings to me and they wouldn’t have sounded like blessings to any of the people who heard this sermon, either.


If you want to capture the absurdity of what Jesus is saying, here are some blessings for our cultural context:

· Blessed are those with congestive heart failure.