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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, November 2, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 6:20–26                     

Then he looked up at his disciples and said:

“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.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 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.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

“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.

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

It is possible to slip into saying “I’m so blessed” or “we’re so blessed” when things are going well. It’s a way that we try to express gratitude for abundance that we have, or for peace, or health, or relationships that are thriving. But Jesus here points out a difficulty with using that language. Do we mean to say that people who are experiencing rough times are not blessed or, worse, that somehow God wants them to suffer? Of course we don’t mean to take it that far!

Yet we can slip into this way of thinking, or our words can imply and lead other people to think they are not blessed if they are poor or hungry or grieving. In Jesus’ time, and still in our time, there are people who teach that if we love God, if we do what is right, that God will bless us and we won’t suffer.

But no one, no one, is exempt from the vulnerabilities of life. There will come a time when all of us suffer from a physical ailment, the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, personal failures and mistakes. We will have a greedy moment; we will take something too lightly and laugh when we should take something very seriously. Woe will come to us all.

In this scripture Jesus tells us that even in those moments when we weep, when we hunger for food or love or justice, when we are poor in spirit or in resources, even then God will bless us. God’s blessing is for all of God’s people. When we think we can withhold it from some, we end up turning away from our own blessings, as our hearts and our minds close. Woe to us when we separate ourselves from parts of God’s creation.

Holy One, open me to receive your blessing. Bind me to the household of faith and to all your creation, all your children, all of your beloveds. Be with me in my sorrows, and bring me consolation and, yes, even joy and laughter. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

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