At our weekly Faith Arts Camp for elementary school students, we have a list of expectations as to how campers should behave. (You might notice a commandment or two on the list, as well.) We drew it up on a dry erase board last fall. Every now and then there’s a need to pull it out again to remind the kids of how they are expected to behave, in regard to each other and in regard to the adults and activities.
You might think of this week’s Gospel reading –known as The Beatitudes — as Jesus providing a list of God’s expectations for our behavior. Not that we’ll ever meet all of those expectations all of the time. And they don’t function as a checklist of things we need to do to get to heaven.
In Claiming the Beatitudes, Anne Sutherland Howard writes: “Each one of the beatitudes echoes Isaiah’s description of the reign of God. These brief sayings give us a lens through which to see Jesus and the God he proclaimed. Through these words, and through his alternative way in the world, Jesus points to a God who is always doing something new, a God who engages this world with healing mercy, endless compassion, and liberating justice. We see a God who is most concerned about those who have the least. The beatitudes give us not only a way to see God, but a way to see our world, and they give us something concrete to do about what we see, as they call us participate in God’s kingdom.”
Take a little time this week to consider the beatitudes. Give some thought to how these expectations or this vision of the reign of God differ from the ways of this world and the expectations of our culture.
— Pastor Mark Rollenhagen