Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:
"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 be shown 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 because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." - Matthew 5:1-12
The foolishness of God is very upsetting. You don’t want a fool for a God but that is what you have. But not the type of fool you think him to be. For the foolishness he speaks of is meant to absolutely upset your reality. It is meant to destroy any semblance of certainty you may have in your own wisdom, knowledge, or strength. The weakness God portrays is so powerful that it actually kills you. Puts your sin to death. Brings you to an end only to raise you up in newness of life, and this new life looks so weird, so misunderstood, so foolish.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I shall make you those who catch people." - Matthew 4:18-19
Your comfort, as far as how safe or unsafe you feel seems to be of no concern of Jesus at times. Whether we like something or not, whether we are called to do something that we enjoy, or something that we despise – well, Jesus seems to not really care. For Jesus, comfort can mean complacency, and complacency is not his middle name.
We like the adage – bloom where you are planted, especially when we get to pick the greenness, the lushness of the field, but not when it may mean we are the one thistle among other thistles and thorns. We don’t often want the unfamiliar, the new, the different. We especially don’t want to think that we might be the light of the world called to serve in the darkness. We want to be the light among light, because otherwise, we have no clue what we are doing.
What we are saying says a lot about us. It also says a lot about what we think of others, where we think our judgements lie, and what we expect of our future because of what we believe it will be.
If you scour the internet right now, it won't take but a moment and I will wait here until you come back, just google "Trump" and see what pops up. Most of it will be the doom-and-gloom that we have become accustomed to in our daily media. We are told many things about him. Things that are both true and things that are false. Things that make us believe that we are witnessing the second coming of the anti-Christ, the fulfillment of Revelation 13, or the complete denial of all goodness, grace, or humanity.
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). - John 1:29-42
Jesus seems to do what he wants because he just can’t help himself. He doesn’t come in power only to be set aside. He doesn’t want to waste his time by leaving a job unfinished. Instead he comes upon the scene and finding a disaster, he does what he wants to do, digging into places where he could appear to be unwanted. Calling us to join with him and his people in a communion of saints that comprises every tribe and tongue and nation, even the ones you hate.
We are all liars. Every single one of us. We praise tolerance. We talk about how we want to spread love, hope and peace. We proclaim ourselves to be part of some new world order that will bring harmony to the world. And yet we say…
Mike Pence can s#&^ my c@%&!
The GOP is going to destroy the world.
I hope they all fail.
We need to boycott everything!
The arrival of Trump as president, and his inauguration, shall be the saddest day in our country’s history.
O Lord, how my enemies have grown!
So many are rising up against me.
Yes Lord. My sin has grown. My life passes me by. The days mount up and I see death at the coming. It is inevitable. It stares me in the face and frightens me to the point of trembling.
Many are saying of my soul,
“God will not save him.”
What’s worse, My God, is that I have no one to speak to me of Your grace, Your mercy, Your deliverance. All around me is vain labor. All around me is pious glory. All around me is this trudging towards some peak, some mountaintop, that seems to ever grow. That climbs to the sky, and I hate heights.
And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. - Luke 2:21
The name of Jesus is not some identification tag of some person who lived long ago. It is the identification of a people, of a faith, of those bought through death and resurrection. It is a name gifted to the undeserving to offer them hope and peace in God, who lives to love and bring victory over the enemies and intruders who wish to do his people harm. It is a place of new beginnings, new life, wrought not by the wishes of those so named but by the one who can’t dare to live without his people that belong to him. All of this, past, present, and future, being promised to you, free of charge.
Based on the coverage and reactions on social media and elsewhere, 2016 was not your year. It was apparently a year of tragedy and hardship for many. Of sacrifice and death. Of sorrow and loss. It was a year in which many things did not go the way people wanted them. Loss was felt across the world. Burying those we did not want to, and losing that which we wanted to keep.