Sermon Option: February 17, 2019

January 4th, 2019

Call to Worship

Blessed are the poor

It is me, Lord

Blessed are the hungry

It is me, Lord

Blessed are those that weep

It is us, Lord

Blessed people who are hated, excluded, and reviled

Our lives matter, Lord

Blessed are those who belong to God

We all belong to you, O Lord. We are blessed!

Preaching Theme

This is a challenging text for many to interpret. Luke’s text (commonly referred to as the Beatitudes) points to the manifestation of God in and across our lived experiences. It is challenging because it requires us to see God in places and in ways that are antithetical to the world’s priorities and perspectives. As Christians, we are called to use a formula inverse to that provided by society. The world only sees blessing in the signs and wonders that are principally material in nature, ornate by design, signified by status, and socially accepted or approved.

However, God’s priorities do not align with the world. God’s blessing is grace. It is operating and living in the preferences and expectations of God. God blesses those whom society marginalizes. As James Cone teaches, “Christian theology is a theology of liberation, and its task should be concerned with explicating the meaning of God’s liberating activity so that those who labor under enslaving powers will see that forces of liberation are the very activity of God.”1 God is God of the oppressed. God through Jesus Christ intends to liberate the captive; heal the sick; empower the poor and weak; uplift the downtrodden; and radically transform the political, social, and economic systems of this life.

God can and will show up in real and necessary ways. Christians ought to see God evidenced, or made real, in tangible and intangible forms within our lives. Ultimately, if we follow God’s call, we will create conflict with the world around us. Society seeks to reinforce its own values, and the prioritizing of God’s values will make us antithetical and antagonistic to the world. But through God’s grace, we are blessed even in our discomfort. We are blessed through entering into a new way of being in which we reject the rubric that society attempts to use to measure our lives.

Secondary Preaching Theme

To live righteously is to simply live in right alignment with God and God’s plan. If your car’s wheels are misaligned, it can cause major problems for other parts of the car like the brakes or the wheel bearings. This imbalance of incongruence can adversely affect the car’s rate of speed, braking capacity, and gas mileage. This is likewise true in our spiritual lives. We are slow in getting where we are destined to go because we are not properly aligned. We are not maximizing our time, talent, and treasure for the glory of God. 

In order to resolve that we will be blessed, there are people we need to avoid. The text points out three specific types of persons and personalities to avoid at all cost in order to be blessed of God and live in righteousness. God’s word says that blessed people avoid those who are ungodly. That is to say, persons and personalities who lack moral and ethical integrity. It says to avoid those who are sinners—those professional, habitual wrongdoers who major in mess, mayhem, and manure. God will bless the obedient and the faithful, so we must avoid those who serve as stumbling blocks 
to us.

Secondly, if you are resolved to be blessed, then there are some priorities you need to establish. Verse 2 tells us that a person who is blessed is so because God centers their joy and desires on the things and ways as prescribed and dictated by God—that is what aligns with the word of God. If you make God your priorities, then your priorities will become God’s priorities. If you desire the Lord, you will be blessed!

Finally, you must be planted. Planted, meaning firmly positioned, settled, and established. We must be planted in order to grow! We must reflect on where we are planted and who planted us there. If where you’re planted is distanced from God, the things of God, and the people of God, then you need to reflect on where you are planted, because you are possibly planted in some unfertile place with decaying and demonic people. We must rather be planted in God’s word and work through our worship to and relationship with God.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to begin to rejoice, praise, and celebrate. Resolve to be blessed now and forevermore.


Prayer of St. Francis 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

1. James H. Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press, 1996), 3.

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