Memorize & Ponder for Sunday July 20, 2014

Reflections on the Beatitudes

Matthew 5:8-11   (NRSV)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called the children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you,
and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets
who were before you.

Throughout 2014, the Christian community at Brentwood Presbyterian Church is getting to know Jesus, the Christ, in a refreshing and transformative way. We invite you to listen for what the Spirit is saying in the text, then question how those insights might change the ways you see things and act in the world. Share your thoughts during the week on the meaning the Spirit creates for you in this text by posting a comment here.

A Provocative Pondering

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us provoke one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together … (Hebrews 10:23-25a)

Matthew’s Gospel was written for the Christian community at a time when it was under stress. The early church was just breaking away from Judaism. Those who believed that Jesus was the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah promised in the prophets, were being reviled, rejected, and persecuted by the Jewish leaders of their time. Political pressure was being applied as well, with many of the social teachings of Jesus considered as revolutionary and seditious. To publically acknowledge Jesus as Lord, to give Jesus Christ the primary loyalty in your life, took courage and resilience.

The Beatitudes are Matthew’s summary of his understanding of the core teachings of Jesus, teachings that both guided and comforted a persecuted community.

There are many parts of the world in which Christian communities are still persecuted in ways similar to New Testament times. Christians are disrespected, attacked, persecuted, killed, and banned.  We need to keep those sisters and brothers in Christ inn our prayers.

In North America, there are different kinds of disrespect and disregard. Here, we face more dismissal than attack.  We are ignored more than persecuted. The Christian faith makes no sense to many and is simply rejected.

In such a context, the Beatitudes provide direction and encouragement to stay true to God’s call to be blessings in the world, regardless of how we are treated. They promised radical, unconditional grace, and, as grateful response, expected total commitment to the radical demands of the Gospel.

Join us in our study groups and worship services to ponder together what the Spirit is teaching us through this text.

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