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Sermon February 13 2022

Epiphany 6 C 2022 Our Hope Is in the Lord

Luke 6:17-26


Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Last week, our Gospel text focused on the call of Peter, and the wonderful surprises God has in store for us.  Today our Gospel text is an address to the disciples who had made a real commitment to follow Him; and yes, the text again contains “a big surprise.” 

The text begins by informing us that when Jesus came down from the mountain, Jesus looked out at the crowd that had gathered before Him, and He saw the poor, the weak, the oppressed, the women, and the slaves and He immediately began to address the negative social evils that exist in our world. 

Numerous biblical commentaries inform us that Jesus issued a call that day to live life in a new way and to see things with fresh eyes.  And many theologians inform us that Jesus was determined to turn the world upside down.  Listen again to what Jesus said using a modern translation: “Blessed are you who are disregarded by the powerful, for you are God’s beloved community.”

Wow.  What a shock it must have been to all who heard Him speak.  Who would have guessed that the poor, the hungry, the people who weep, the people who are hated are blessed?  What in the world is Jesus talking about?  This did not make sense back in Christ’s day.  And it does not make sense today either. 

Theologian Diana Butler Bass, when commenting on this text, wrote that most people think of blessings this way.  “Blessed are the rich, for they own the best stuff.  Blessed are the sexy and glamorous, for everyone desires them.  Blessed are the powerful, for they control the kingdoms of the earth.  Blessed are those who get everything they ever wanted; they alone are satisfied. Blessed are the famous, for their reward is eternal life.” 

What Diana Butler Bass is saying is that money, beauty, power, achievement, fame - these are the things that our society holds in esteem.  And if we have all of them or even just one of them, the world tells us that we can count ourselves as blessed. 

But Jesus does not see it this way.  In fact, Jesus views these so-called blessings as characteristics of those who are lost.  And Jesus proclaimed woe to anyone who finds themselves looking at life this way.God does not regard wealth, happiness, and popularity as signs of goodness, nor does God permit them to be factors that entitles anyone to citizenship in His Kingdom.  Rather, God looks upon the lowest of low and blesses them.  

Why?  Because God made each one of us.  And God does not make junk.  Therefore, regardless of how society views someone, in the sight of the Lord everyone is loved, and accepted, and valued by God.  

Our position before God is not determined by the amount of money in our bank account, or by our position in society.  Our riches do not bestow upon us the Kingdom of God.  Our good works do not earn for us God’s grace.  Our material goods do not guarantee eternal salvation.  In fact, these earthly achievements can get in the way of our relationship with God. 

Listen again to our text today. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.  Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of man.” “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.” 

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.  Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.  Woe to you when people speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”  

When I read this text, I am reminded of the Book of Solomon which informs us that it is better to go to a house of mourning than a house of feasting. The reason is that the house of mourning makes us realize the shortness of life.  The house of mourning causes us to address ultimate issues. The house of mourning strips away the pretend world in which we try to hide ourselves. The house of mourning forces us to consider what is important and points us to the eternal rather than the temporary. 

And the “surprise” that we have today in our text is this: True happiness comes when we are able to look at the harsh realities of life and rest confidently in the Lord

Yes, our hope is in the Lord.  God is our refuge and our strength. God is a very present help in trouble.  In God our hearts rejoice.  Let us put our trust in Him.  Amen. 

As we close the sermon this morning, please turn to the litany that is printed on the screen.

P: As the world swirls in pandemic turmoil,
C: My hope is in the Lord.

P: As the economy faces inflation,
C: My hope is in the Lord.

P: As I struggle with temptation,
C: My hope is in the Lord.

P: As I try to calm my anxious thoughts,
C: My hope is in the Lord.

P: As I worry for my family,
C: My hope is in the Lord.

P: As evil seems to have its way,
C: My hope is in the Lord.

ALL: We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:20-22

P: Let us pray: Heavenly Father, you are the hope of the weak, the orphaned, and the oppressed.  You bring down the wicked and disrupt their plans.  You strengthen the hearts of the helpless and bestow blessings upon all who put their hope in you.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.