Your love never fails, never gives up and never runs out on me”.
That is the refrain from the song One Thing Remains by Passion we shared at Confirmation this week as our opening prayer. You can hear that song here. The way that we often want to limit God’s love or make it a reward for good behavior Jesus turns upside down. This weekend we hear from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount the Beatitudes. Let's start with this translation of Matthew 5:1-12 from the Message.
Matthew 5:1-12 The Message (MSG)
1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
The Beatitudes- Jesus’ upside down teaching that invites us to wake up and reorient ourselves toward God’s amazing love that never gives up.
The upside down way of Jesus- where those often thought cursed are identified by Jesus as those who are blessed.
The upside down way of Jesus where death is the entry to life eternal. The upside down way of Jesus where mountain top experiences take us to the depth of human suffering and pain.
The upside down way of Jesus where we embrace that we are both broken and blessed.
The upside down way of Jesus in which the love of God takes on our human form coming into this world -not to be served but to serve.
The upside down way of Jesus where we not only count our blessings- we don’t hoard them or hold onto them- we discern how to give them away- again and again and again.
The upside down way of Jesus where death does not have the last word and is not an end -it is a new beginning.
The upside down way of Jesus where the call to follow is a call to the way of the cross where we lose our lives (those outside climbing up the ladder lives) exchanging that for a life worth living where we let go of all our great big ideas and focus on mustard seeds, lost coins, lost sheep, trusting God to know the number of hairs on our head.
The upside down way of Jesus is a life of letting go instead of holding on.
The upside down way of Jesus invites us into a life of giving up instead of storing up.
The upside down way of Jesus calls to us to be light in the darkness, hope for the hopeless, living in love in the face of rejection and hatred.
The upside down way of Jesus turns everything upside down- again and again and again.
And when we think we have “got it”, we are asked to let go of that as well.
The upside down life of Jesus asks to allow ourselves to be fully embraced by God’s grace instead of thinking we need to grasp onto the last straw.
The upside down life of Jesus invites us to follow where he leads trusting deeply that what may appear to us as impossible is quite the contrary for God.
God keeps showing us in Jesus that the upside down way is the way of life, love, forgiveness and hope.
“Your love never fails, never gives up and never runs out on me”.