Monday, November 06, 2017

Sermon: God Bless You

 Here, faced with God’s blessings found in the beatitudes.
          Here, remembering those faithful who lived before us, relishing our own saintliness—given to us by Jesus, and looking forward in hope to the countless generations of God’s Children we do not yet know.
          Here, baptizing little Nathaniel.
          Here, in all these things, I simply wish to say, God bless you.


God bless you, not as the world would, not blessings as we’d like, not as we’d imagine them to be
—not as the world’s siren song has said to us:
Blessed are the vigorous, for they will rule.
Blessed are the comfortable, for they will accrue still more comfort.
Blessed are the proud, for they may take the earth.
Blessed are those filled and slaked with injustices, for they shall overflow.
Blessed are the cruel, mercy is for the weak.
Blessed are the corrupt, for they will see what they want to see.
Blessed are the warmongers, for they will take God’s inheritance.
Blessed are those honored for their injustices, for they will rule.
Blessed are you when people praise you and hide your harassment and say all kinds of good things about you-because you dishonor me. Smile hard at it, you’ve got your reward, just as the false prophets of old were rewarded.

May such a blessing never find lodging in your hearts! Instead,
God bless you, that you might know God among us in his humility.
          The Blessed One, Jesus came to us through Mary, lowly and young. 
Came to us with Mary and Joseph—so poor that they could only afford the sacrifice of pigeons at his circumcision.
          Jesus who hungered in the dessert for 40 days.
          Jesus whose life was a life of mercy from beginning to end.
          Jesus who was not corrupted by either the crowd or the religious leaders.
          Jesus who made peace among disciples who deeply disagreed, and called upon us to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile, and even love of enemies.
          Jesus who was harassed and harried and eventually killed under false pretenses.
Jesus who relinquished even his life, that we might have life.
          Jesus who, as Paul writes somewhere, “emptied himself of Godhood, embraced servanthood, humbled himself to death, even death on a cross.”
          May Jesus Christ’s presence, as he is, bless you.

God bless you, that when you are struck low, God will raise you up
          On the off-chance things are going particularly well in your life right now, it is worth reminding you that in this life there are no guarantees—be you glad and well fed now, be you at peace and without temptation—know that the other foot may drop.
          But to you mourning, humiliated, hungry, merciful, and so on—I pray that in the midst of all these things, we might be lifted up, 
that we might find healing and wholeness
—redemption itself, through Christ our Lord.
          Look back just a few verses, see what Christ is explaining with these blessings… he was mobbed by the diseased, possessed, paralyzed and epileptics—and he healed them.
          Those healings—those transformed lives—that’s the Kingdom of God come near! That’s an example of blessing
—that’s what happens when Jesus shows up! When Jesus shows up, you are raised up!

God bless you, with eyes to see the lowly and love them as yourself
          Just as our Lord raises up the lowly, I pray he gives us eyes and wills to do the same.
          That when we see those he has blessed,
the meek and mild, who are disempowered and have lost the energy for life, the humble and humiliated, those seeking seriously for decency and virtue
—when we see them, we might really see them, see them as beloved Children of the Father, and have the will to be a blessing to them!

God bless you and continually bring you from death to life!
          These blessings, they come from the God who creates—the very act of speaking them, makes them so.
          Ours is a God who speaks into chaos and nothing and creates all that is. 
Ours is a God who speaks through us with sighs too deep for words. 
Ours is a God who, when faced with the murder of his own Son, saw fit to speak life into him and speak our sin out of existence, naming our crime as a sacrifice that saves us
—naming us anew as adopted children of God, renewed for an abundant life, blessed by God!

Just so, God bless you Nathanael, 
God bless you in this baptism. 
This recreation by God. 
This calling, that you might see all people and have the will to love them well. 
This solid space created for you to experience even suffering in such a way that when you look back at it you may even be able to see God at work. 
This way Jesus unites you with him and his humble life, death, and resurrection.
This act in which you reject all the forces of this world that stand against God.
Nathaniel, on this the day of your baptism, may God bless you.

May God bless us all… 
God bless you.