The Blessings of First Congregational

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called 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.”

Matthew 5:3-11

Two Sundays ago I preached on these words from Matthew. To summarize my sermon for those not here on Sunday, my point was that Jesus might have been using these words to foreshadow his ministry and set an example for all of us to follow. “Blessed” can be a funny term to define in our context, but most of us can acknowledge that when we ‘feel’ blessed, we ‘feel’ loved, supported, cared for and ‘feel’ the presence of God in our lives. We don’t just feel the love because we have given X dollars to the church, because of our position in the church or community, or because we have the biggest and best gifts, but because of the ministry of the members. 

When I speak of feeling blessed, I think of the blessings I feel as part of First Congregational United Church of Christ. I can speak of the love I feel here in this community. I feel part of a community that loves me and my family for who we are and for the gifts we bring to this church community. I also feel blessed because we have experienced an environment that accepts and loves us, in spite of, or because of, our foibles. First Congregational also offers the opportunity to be a blessing to others.

Jesus’ ministry is a blessing. He is present with people who need to feel his love and presence. He reaches out to people who are mourning, people who have been shunned by the community at large, people who are weak and people who are trying so hard to do the right thing, but are feeling little affirmation for their work. In these verses, called the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us who he is ministering to; he tells us how God will enter our lives not just when everything is going well, but at those times when we feel challenged. 

This is our call to ministry also. Our call to ministry includes being present with our brothers and sisters when everything isn’t great. If it hasn’t already happened, there will be times for all of us when we are not having our best day. Those times will include being grumpy, a time when we doubt who we are or what we have to offer, we will not see everything eye to eye with our neighbors, our shortcomings will be exposed, we will be mourning a loved one or a loved thing and we will feel pretty poor in spirit. When those times occur, First Congregational is exactly where we need to be. 

There is a call to ministry and an acceptance to be ministered to as well. We need to feel the love and presence of our church community. We need to offer our love, care and support to those who need it because before we know it the tables will turn, and we will be the one in need. As much as we would like to believe it, none of us are self-sufficient.

I give thanks for a community that has been a blessing to so many. But I also encourage each of us to continue to look around and ask the question, “Who needs my blessing today?” or “How have I been blessed today?”

~ Eldonna Hazen

 

Posted on February 11, 2014 at 10:09 am in Featured Content.

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