Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
January 29, 2017, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas
Sermon Text: Matthew 5:1-12
Sermon Theme: “How Blessed Are Your Attitudes?”
(Sources: Anderson’s Cycle A Preaching Workbook; Brokhoff, Series A, Preaching Workbook; original ideas; Emphasis Online Illustrations; Emphasis Online Commentary; Online Jokes about Humility and Meekness; The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible; footnotes, The Life Application Study Bible)
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Beatitudes are not prescriptions for how to live a Godly life. They are descriptions of how a Godly life should look, and rather radical descriptions at that. A Godly life is humble and meek, merciful, pure, peace-making. The main characteristic defining the “blessed attitudes,” as they are sometimes called, is humility. The opposite of humility is pride, which the Bible judges to be the root of all sin.
The wrong kind of pride and a lack of humility seem to be natural human weaknesses, and are even found in the church, even among Christians with credentials. Sometimes it takes the innocence of a child to put us all in our place.
There’s a story about a pastor who was never seen without his clerical collar, something he wore with the good kind of pride, but also with maybe a little bit of the bad kind of pride. No one had ever seen this pastor without his collar, so they jokingly wondered if he even slept with it on.
After church, a child who came from an un-churched family and had never seen a pastor’s garb before, asked the Reverend, “Do you have a bo-bo?”
At first the pastor was a little taken aback, and then he realized the boy was looking intently at his white and black Roman collar. So he pulled out the white plastic insert and showed it to the child, telling him that it was also part of a clergyman’s outfit.
On the backside of every plastic insert are embossed the words, “Wash with warm, soapy water.” The pastor showed this to the little boy, and, knowing the kid was too young to read, asked him, “Do you know what these words say?”
The boy startled the pastor by saying, “I sure do!”
“You do? Then tell me what they say,” said the Right Reverend Clergyman.
“It says, ‘kills fleas and ticks for up to six months.’” Everybody laughed.
The Beatitudes in our sermon text are addressed to people we think we don’t want to be. We don’t want to be meek or poor in spirit. And, if being merciful means forgiving our enemies, we certainly want to think twice about that one. To be pure in heart means we would have to give up all of our impurities, and most of us cling to them. It’s the same for being a peacemaker; more often than not, we want to carry the grudge. We certainly don’t want to be persecuted or reviled. Continue reading