Posts Tagged ‘Sermon on the Mount’


Challenging the status quo continues over this long discussion. Tradition presents it as one continuous thread over three chapters in Matthew (or many verses in Luke). Quite possibly, many teaching moments condensed to give a form of living to a new community emerging. Stripping away the traipsing of false religiosity and the seeking of Imperial Power. Shredding the idea of ‚Äúother‚ÄĚ from community, to create a space for the family that is humanity, regardless of label. Knowing that each would bring their gifts, and each would need their own interdependent aids to thrive. Together it would move forward.

1‚ÄúJudge¬†not, that you be not judged.¬†2For with what¬†judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.¬†3And why do you look at the speck in your brother‚Äôs eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?¬†4Or how can you say to your brother, ‚ÄėLet me remove the speck from your eye‚Äô; and look, a plank¬†is¬†in your own eye?¬†5Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother‚Äôs eye.

6“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

-Matthew 7:1-6 (New King James Version, NKJV).

Judgment. We view it today as being critical. But it was more insidious than that. This teaching was about deflection of one’s own trials by creating a destructive burden upon another. Deflecting harm form self, by setting up a scapegoat (literal practice of the sacrificial system). It is Jesus calling us to be introspective of our own life, to know that when we work into accountability (civil, criminally, communally, personally) it comes from a space of LOVE not fear/hate.

For we are knowing who we are, and standing strong in our own confidence. We are seeing the other person as the holy that resonates. We use justice, not as a system of revenge, but of restoration (sawbonna).

It is truly shattering the idea of fear of other, fear of not being worthy. Knowing we are worthy. Knowing we are in this together. Knowing our actions cause ripple effects that can harm or heal within the moment, and beyond.

7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

-Matthew 7:7-12 (NKJV)

What was the law? A burdensome system? Know and No. It was a system to lay our cause and effect. Brought in during a society’s pre-adolescence phase, now entering older adolescence/young adulthood the literalism moves to being ingrained as an ethical compass. The Prophets were not about the future, but about pointing to ethical quandaries and the choices that were laid forth. From those choices, the effects were then laid out. And the society chose, and lived the effect.

What happens when we look beyond black and white. Live into the grey of a situation. Resonate with where our internal compass guides us (that moment on oneness with the Holy). Fully knowing cause and effect, and claim our course.

“If I were to set the compass of my heart toward a North Star for this life,what would it be?”

-Jack Kornfield

Too often we spend time chasing that which does not matter. Prestige, power, false ego or we live out of hate and fear that we may ‚Äúloose out‚ÄĚ. Yet what is lost, if we do not set the compass of our passion?

You.

Live into the gifts Brother Jesus is illuminating what will come into your life, yes there will be struggles. But what happens when we shatter the labels. When we remove, ‚Äúother‚ÄĚ and replace it with ‚Äúneighbour‚ÄĚ. What happens when we accept checking into gratitude of our journey? The gifts of faith, peace, hope, joy and Love?

13“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

-Matthew 5:13-14 (NKJV)

“Discover your passion,

Find a way to make a living at it.”

-My Dad.

 

We forget the journey of life to our core is a labyrinth. Winding and turning, but one path to the centre. When we go off the path, or let the fog of EGO edge out our true essence, it can appear it is a maze (many false stops and starts), but those are the blocks of our own creation. Keep true to the journey of the labyrinth that brings you back to your passion. It may change as the journey changes you, but growing from your passion will…well as cliched as it is:

15“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

-Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)

You need the write material to grow the right fruit.

When you live out of your true passion, your narrow path, your fruit will grow and be shared true. Your life will be a beacon of who you truly are.

What does your fruit say about the path you are on?

¬†21‚ÄúNot everyone who says to Me, ‚ÄėLord, Lord,‚Äô shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who¬†does the will of My Father in heaven.¬†22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‚ÄėLord, Lord, have we¬†not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?‚Äô¬†23 And¬†then I will declare to them, ‚ÄėI never knew you;¬† depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!‚Äô

-Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)

It is easy to live a false life in the maze. But in the end, are you belonging in community? Or isolated with your EGO toys?

24“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26‚ÄúBut everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:¬†27¬†and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.‚ÄĚ

-Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV)

Sit with these four short verses. Read/hear them three times.

  • Reading/hearing One: What emotions rise up for where you are in the journey now? Rest in those emotions. Scribble them out in colours.
  • Reading/hearing Two: Draw the house the emotions lead you too. Which one is it? Is it completely one? Rest within that house, and the creaking.
  • Reading/hearing Three: The hardest moment. What maintains your house where you are? Or begins to shift to the house you want?

Rest in the moment of the art.

Rest in the moment, savour where you have been. Honour the house that has been built. Thank the house you live in.

            What is one simple act of kindness you can do today to move towards the house you want?

 

28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

-Matthew 7:28-29 (NKJV)

 

 

 


The discourse continues as Brother Jesus attacks the holy acts for the show of importance, not for where they are to come from. True concern/care for neighbour. Matthew 6 (full text at end) explores the idea of showy spirituality. The kind that is out to inflate the ego of the individual, that creates power base and authority. This is done through excluding people.

Think about in. The idea of fasting? Challenging for some due to health conditions, or socio-economics. Yet it was a ‚Äúheight of holiness‚ÄĚ, but for this to be the case, you were looking to the already wealthy to show how ‚Äúblessed‚ÄĚ they were because of the power they had stolen by creating outcasts and others (hmm‚Ķ televangelists, social conservatives, eco-extremists, any fundamentalist/extremist that creates a false us/them dichotomy). Jesus was using the practices that people pointed to show worth, and pointing out the hypocrisy.

Giving alms. How is it from a base of wealth giving to the poor, worthier, than the family subsisting that never turns away someone joining them for dinner?

Fancy words are not what prayers are made of for show? It is the affirmation of your own worth and love, and sharing from the core. Centering first, then living that matters. Not the show, and then raking in the coin. To moving into the place of treasure, some have always said it is in what one can amass money or possession wise, but truly if you have all the toys but no real relationships with another, have you any treasure? If the accumulation has filled you with such fear that you are wiring up bright lights and video cameras to ‚Äúprotect‚ÄĚ and place your life on lock down out of fear, is it worth it?

If you have all this wealth, but have never seen another person as worthy of dignity, aid, health care, social assistance, pharmacare, education (the list can go) because they ‚Äúare not worthy‚ÄĚ and need to ‚Äúearn‚ÄĚ it‚Ķthen are you truly resonating in humanity?

Image result for finger labyrinthThis portion is to take you deeper into your internal self to truly understand that contentment comes from residing fully with the cosmic spark within. It is the journey of the labyrinth to our core.

And being in the core…allows for us to reflect upon our lives, our core values, our own health. Much like a coaching wheel of self-care:

 Click on the image to view. 

The centre is 0 the outer rim is 10, authentically mark out the areas from 0 to 10. How balanced is your life? What does your wheel look like? What is one area you want to focus on, one simple step to moving your number up one space?

I encourage, much like the discourse on the mount, this activity to be done in groups, so you can hold one another accountable, follow up in a week, two weeks on how the challenge is going to keep the momentum up.

As you grow, and transfigure. Know contentment will wane and come. The challenge is…

 

 

Will you risk being content?

 

End Note Matthew 6 (English Standard Version):

6 “Beware of rpracticing your righteousness before other people in order sto be seenby them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

2 t“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocritesdo in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may ube praised by others. Truly, I say toyou, they have vreceived their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let yourleft hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. wAndyour Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The Lord’s Prayer

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love xto stand andpray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. yTruly, Isay to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, zgo into your room andshut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. aAnd your Father who sees insecret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as bthe Gentiles do, for ctheythink that they will be heard dfor their many words. 8 Do not be like them, efor yourFather knows what you need before you ask him. 9 fPray then like this:

g“Our Father in heaven,

hhallowed be iyour name.1

10  jYour kingdom come,

kyour will be done,2

lon earth as it is in heaven.

11  mGive us nthis day our daily bread,3

12  and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13  And olead us not into temptation,

but pdeliver us from qevil.4

14 rFor if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,15 sbut if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yourtrespasses.

Fasting

16 “And twhen you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure theirfaces that their fasting may be seen by others. uTruly, I say to you, they have receivedtheir reward. 17 But when you fast, vanoint your head and wash your face, 18 that yourfasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. wAnd your Fatherwho sees in secret will reward you.

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 x“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where ymoth and rust5 destroyand where thieves zbreak in and steal, 20 xbut lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Forwhere your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 a“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will befull of light, 23 abut if byour eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then thelight in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 c“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, orhe will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and dmoney.6

Do Not Be Anxious

25¬†e‚ÄúTherefore¬†I¬†tell¬†you,¬†fdo¬†not¬†be¬†anxious¬†about¬†your¬†life,¬†what¬†you¬†will¬†eat¬†or¬†whatyou¬†will¬†drink,¬†nor¬†about¬†your¬†body,¬†what¬†you¬†will¬†put¬†on.¬†Is¬†not¬†life¬†more¬†than¬†food,¬†andthe¬†body¬†more¬†than¬†clothing?¬†26¬†gLook¬†at¬†the¬†birds¬†of¬†the¬†air:¬†they¬†neither¬†sow¬†nor¬†reapnor¬†gather¬†into¬†barns,¬†and¬†yet¬†your¬†heavenly¬†Father¬†feeds¬†them.¬†hAre¬†you¬†not¬†of¬†morevalue¬†than¬†they?¬†27¬†And¬†which¬†of¬†you¬†by¬†being¬†anxious¬†can¬†add¬†a¬†single¬†hour¬†to¬†his¬†ispan¬†oflife?7¬†28¬†And¬†why¬†are¬†you¬†anxious¬†about¬†clothing?¬†Consider¬†the¬†lilies¬†of¬†the¬†field,¬†how¬†theygrow:¬†they¬†neither¬†toil¬†nor¬†spin,¬†29¬†yet¬†I¬†tell¬†you,¬†jeven¬†Solomon¬†in¬†all¬†his¬†glory¬†was¬†notarrayed¬†like¬†one¬†of¬†these.¬†30¬†But¬†if¬†God¬†so¬†clothes¬†the¬†grass¬†of¬†the¬†field,¬†which¬†today¬†is¬†aliveand¬†tomorrow¬†is¬†thrown¬†into¬†the¬†oven,¬†will¬†he¬†not¬†much¬†more¬†clothe¬†you,¬†kO¬†you¬†of¬†littlefaith?¬†31¬†Therefore¬†do¬†not¬†be¬†anxious,¬†saying,¬†‚ÄėWhat¬†shall¬†we¬†eat?‚Äô¬†or¬†‚ÄėWhat¬†shall¬†we¬†drink?‚Äôor¬†‚ÄėWhat¬†shall¬†we¬†wear?‚Äô¬†32¬†For¬†lthe¬†Gentiles¬†seek¬†after¬†all¬†these¬†things,¬†and¬†myourheavenly¬†Father¬†knows¬†that¬†you¬†need¬†them¬†all.¬†33¬†But¬†nseek¬†first¬†othe¬†kingdom¬†of¬†God¬†andhis¬†righteousness,¬†pand¬†all¬†these¬†things¬†will¬†be¬†added¬†to¬†you.

34 q“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious foritself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

 


The hardest part of any change within is being present during it. For good or ill, the journey always has more points of discovery than when the destination is finally reached. But also in the journey one needs to realize when they have reached a point of a new journey beginning. Jesus opened up about the internal transformation, and how the ripples would affect the community.

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

-Matthew 5:13-16 (NRSV)

Salt? What a complex thing to be compared to as a change agent. Complex how you say? It is about being a flavouring in the world. It speaks of salt of the earth. Creation. Being in the here and now. Salt has been used in at least 3 ways:

  • Preserve for meats (protein, needed sustenance)
  • To bring flavour out of foods.
  • Agent of destruction. Yes, you read that right. When an invading army had completed the burning down, proving their ‚Äúgod‚ÄĚ was more powerful. The men all killed, children enslaved, women raped to eliminate the last vestiges of the previous people. Crops burned. Then the ground was salted so nothing could grow.

What does this mean to your own journey of self transfiguration? What are pieces of you that need to be preserved? Other pieces that need some flavouring (care and cultivation)? And pieces that just need that destruction (wiped out/healed of/moved on from)? The salt metaphor is for your journey, it is about you and the salt that is to be lived into. Then taken out into your community in love of neighbour. Personal transfiguration to communal transformation.

Are you feeling salty today?

The three-fold use of salt removes the muck that hides your true self. Transfigured and continuing to transform your light begins to shine. People notice, wonder why the change. Will you share what it feels like to take self-care seriously? To embrace your true worth? To stop listening to the exterior that has become interior monologue? Do not accept abuse. You are worthy. You are salty and that will continue to transform the good, and destroy the…well destructive crops planted long ago and today to stop you from being you.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter,[c] not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks[d] one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

-Matthew 5:17-20

crossanIt is rather simple. We tried for centuries, millennia even (up to this point in history how long had Homo Sapiens walked the earth?). All the ancient stories had pointed to this self-worth, love of neighbour by embracing the whole self (spiritual and physical). Not living in hate or our of fear, but in a more offensive four letter word:

L-O-V-E.

We used all the teachings to create a caste system of oppression, hatred and violence that is still perpetuated today.

That is the system being smashed. The Love thread is what is to be fulfilled.

The question is:

What will you do to let your saltiness shine outwards in Love?

 


As we move through the Ancient Teaching, Modern Learning series it is quite easy to just look at the teachings and action items as an out there. An attempt to change our broader society and community. This is true, but it is only one part of the learning that must always be kept at the forefront. There is also the interior change. These teachings were challenging societal norms that did harm, and left communities and individuals in intergenerational trauma, only put value on a person for what they could amass as wealth, and anything seen as less than ‚Äúperfect‚ÄĚ as something to be expunged. It was these norms that fed the eugenics movement that would emerge out of what was meant as good with the Social Gospel movement, for it still created category of other.

This is not right. In the global world we must surrender the concept of other.

In our own interior castle though we must surrender other. That is the other rooms we refuse to enter: the dark basement, the attic, perhaps the wing that has been sealed off. Where must the light shine through? Where must we honour the blessings that challenge the norm? Where we hold in tension in change, and see what is true and right to move forward?

These were the unknowns when Jesus started travelling and teaching. He was nothing more than a general labourer from a small village, rumoured at the least to be  a bastard son, at worst half-Roman (due to the concept women were nothing more than receptacles and all non-Empire citizens were property, meant Mary could’ve been with child due to rape). Someone that was not meant to be seen as a messiah, or be as learned as a wisdom teacher.

Yet here was one in communion with the Holy Mystery. Open like many who do not fit the typical mold we state for ‚Äúhumanity‚ÄĚ, that was able to speak and live outwards. One who was able (as many are) to recognize, neighbour, in not just those who were the same, but those who were blessedly different in the rainbow. It was this Hodge podge rabble that had begun to collect. Where men, women and children were called as persons. Many meals were shared, money and goods were shared from whomever made it, and whatever role needed to be filled was not fully defined by the gender (note the many times the women take the lead throughout Gospel stories? Including in going to the tomb?). It was here that they had traveled, and come to a Mount.

A mount where the Decalogue (10 Commandments) had been brought down by Moses to those escaping another unjust society, seeking a just society, but had interior work to do as well. Now Jesus, sat, ate, talked, laughed, I would say with kids around probably played. Let’s be honest his followers had families or not, there is a high probability Jesus had a wife and kids to at some point. This was a family picnic and a chance to begin to unpack what it meant to live in the Love Covenant. And Jesus opens up with what are seen as blessings (Beatitudes):

5 When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

-Matthew 5:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version)

Who are the poor in spirit? And why is the Kingdom theirs? The Kingdom is not the next life, it is the world created here and now where everyone belongs. Who were the poor in spirit? The ones the religious stated were not holy‚ÄĒthe disabled, the sick, the poor, the single parents, the widows, the orphans (any oppressed group)‚ÄĒbasically the victims of a world that wanted the non ‚Äúpure‚ÄĚ wiped away. Sounding familiar? What soundtrack is playing in the poor in spirit‚Äôs mind if everyone around them is telling them hate? What happens when the action is turned, a community welcomes? We ponder how to extremism, gangs, addictions (the list can go on)‚Ķand it comes from a place of being welcomed, loved and accepted. Something society has always resisted as we resonate on the ‚Äúother‚ÄĚ. Living in fear not hope. Living in hate, not love. For to accept the other as a whole person, then in our own mind means we have to accept that there is diversity in creation and it is okay. Belonging is not about being homogenous, it is a heterogeneous mixture of all peoples, where belonging happens due to the complexity that brings into community.

Who are those who mourn? The ones that society says do not deserve comfort. It may be the citizens caught in a bombing run. A Doctor‚Äôs without Borders targeted hospital. It may be a criminal. Or it may be a child with disabilities that the education system says their staff and friends do not deserve the mourning journey because ‚Äúthat‚Äôs life‚ÄĚ. It can be rationalized on so many levels, but being able to rationalize does not make it right. Those who mourn will be comforted‚Ķbecause all who have suffered loss, change, transition, death‚Ķdeserve the embrace of compassion and equity of care. Your tears, as the tears of others, have value and should be honoured in your personhood.

Who are the meek? They are not the zealots, or the activists or the wealthy or those who are seen as the powers that be. They are the ones that keep plugging along, in survival mode, or just making ends meet. Those that we have stripped voice from because they have not ‚Äúearned‚ÄĚ the ‚Äúright‚ÄĚ to speak. These are the meek. They are not weak, or without intellect or without skill. They are the ones that are the untouchable, the poverty class, the working class‚Ķ the ones the world ignores for it is not flashy what they do. Yet when their voice is heard change happens. Just look at any human rights movement‚ÄĒthose are the meek.

WTF with Righteousness? We live in a world of the self-righteous build the wealth using religion as the opiates of the masses. Who twist religion and ideology in such a ways to create their own fiefdoms at the cost of the other (neighbour) and sometimes destroying their own interior castle if they succumb. The hunger and thirst, is the base desire of knowing something better is possible and needs to happen. That is the drive that allows the others. Remember there is many ways to build poetry and rhythms. Could the Beatitudes be that in seeing as those actions of loving self as you love neighbour, tying into this literary concept of righteousness that takes us into the next blessings.

The merciful? The reciprocity of actions being returned upon you. Not necessarily from the one you showed mercy too, but being able to ease the burden of your own guilt for not helping (the bystander effect) but also in a time of need there is always that synchronicity when help comes. Whether we are aware of it or not. This is a moment of discovery to become aware of gratitude. To know when there is good that comes into your life, no matter how inconsequential some may say it is. This part of the laws of creation.

Pure in heart? This is not some nursery rhyme or fairy tale concept. It is the idea of pureness of one’s own heart. What is still allegorically believed today to be the source of mercy, compassion, kindness, empathy and love (to name but a few). The pureness and ability to see God is simple. If we live our lives with our highest good and those of others (one simple act of kindness at a time) even in the darkest most stumbling moments you will know the cosmic dust that formed you. The energy that binds you to creation and creation into you. You will know the depth of L-O-V-E (the greatest gift) in your darkest time, and that light will shine through and confound the darkness.

Who wants to be a peacemaker? As then, so today, the mediator, the peacemaker, is the one in the midst of the conflict. Whether it is armed, domestic, civil/tort, or within self. You are in the middle holding the factions at bay. Using whatever means necessary from restraint to powerful questions to get to the core of what resonates for all sides to move forward. This is how healthy change happens. In the moment of conflict when one (or many) assesses what of the old needs to pass away, what of the new needs to be accepted, and how to bring the pieces together within the new reality. In ‚ÄúU theory‚ÄĚ it is the prototyping phase of change. Trying out new concepts to see what works, but also have the prototypes implode/explode. This is in the outward world, but also inwardly when you journey.

It wraps up speaking about rejoicing in being persecuted. WTH? Jesus is reminding those gathered that a new path is being chosen. A path where the formally ‚Äúnon-person‚ÄĚ was going to assert their ‚Äúpersonhood‚ÄĚ. In this assertion much was to come down upon them, but to know that this is the time to stand proud in who you are, and that this is what was supposed to exist.

The beatitudes like the concept of the Greatest Commandments, have been the basis of many ‚Äútheology of the margins‚ÄĚ, and this includes many monastic movements and the Social Gospel. Sadly, there is much darkness within those movements that also needs to be expunged for it took these pieces to create another concept of ‚Äúworthy poor‚ÄĚ and eugenics that too must be dismantled.

Within that dismantling though is the interior calling of these words for each of us. Where we are here to get the external home in order. What are we to do with our interior sanctuary?

Write out who you and others see you as today…then…

What affirmations are you going to take up to re-writer you internal dialogue from commodity to worthy person?

What acts of kindness will you share with your neighbour, but also show yourself?

Will you pick up the habit of simple time of gratitude no matter how mundane others may see what you are grateful for, it still is the good in your life?

Try for 30 days (time to build up new habits)…what is the new writing of who you are say?

Are you blessed?


Ancient tradition stipulates the Gospel of Matthew was written by the repentant tax collector called by Jesus, who was renamed from Levi to Matthew (Matthew means gift from God). Depending on theology you read for this synoptic gospel, either Matthew or Mark is the earliest. Material lines up with 3 of the Canonical (those Imperialist chose under Constantine to be in the Christian Testament)-Matthew, Mark & Luke. Some suggest another mystery source, Q, which has never been found, or could be snippets from other pseudepigraphal texts.

What happens though is that Matthew is written for a Judaic audience. Though an audience that was in synagogue, and still willing to hear the political statement of change. A change that can be seen in how the text was structured, yet still clinging to historic means that may no longer fit. To mark placement of importance there is a genealogy enclosed. It is a genealogy that includes victims, and voiceless, but traces to the line of David (many messianic complexes of the day would provide proof. The way Jesus did through Bathsheba, #metoo, shows the need for equity, equality and believing the victims) …to Mary of Nazareth, the bride sold by her family to Joseph. It still holds to the outdated archaicness of the patriarchy, in which Joseph was the one the messenger came to. Yet in this, much like the rape of Bathsheba, it was to show how twisted the creation of equality had become. That this man would hold the fate of another in his hands for following her faith. Joseph could cast her out to be stoned to death, or cast outside the gates to be a survival sex worker with child to pass away into nothingness. Joseph, unlike the David story (David killed the offspring, and Bathsheba’s husband) chose to live as family.

It was not shepherds that came in Matthew’s account, but astrologers, other faiths who saw love enter the world and barriers break down. Much like within Solomon’s temple, a peaceful co-existance of the many wells within the birth narrative (again redeeming the story of the temple collapse). To Jesus going to his cousin, one calling out the institutional structures of segregation, an Essenes most likely, one who chose to remove themselves from the corrupt society. It was here Jesus showed more interconnectedness by partaking in their ritual of connectedness and washing away the dirt of Empire existence.

To a battle in the desert. A battle with Satan. Who is this metaphoric angel? (A great example is the show Lucifer, though I do prefer the original comic representation in Sandman and Lucifer). A tempter, tester, and trickster (seeing other resonances of ancient wisdom). Though also metaphoric as the one that gets those seeking justice to sell out for personal glory (resonate with any personalities of today? Wealth and power to give up principles?)… a metaphor for Herodians, and those in the Sanhedrin? For Roman Empire, tax collectors’ (perhaps a private metaphor on the internal battle within the author Matthew? Or the struggle to come later with Judas?).

From this struggle, the first followers come. Those out of the desert, those that saw something different from what was being put forward. Those that saw someone unwilling to be swayed by the powers that corrupt causes every day.

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan

-Gospel of (St.) Matthew 4:23-25 (English Standard Version)

To the healing texts so abused today. Yes there was healing, the first universal public health care around illnesses. Yes there was probably exorcisms and energy healings, we had seen the ground work laid for these.

BUT

For those with disabilities, the only way to understand for the people of the time authentic belonging was to ‚Äúheal‚ÄĚ. So they would become part of the community, truly belong for it began to shatter there understanding of segregation, and causality.

There is a reason why this essentially becomes the prologue to the Christian-Judaic version of the Law‚ÄĒthe Sermon on the Mount‚ÄĒfor it began to show that those cast aside by society and doomed to death was societies’ wrongs, not the individuals’. It was to show that belonging, began with those pointing the finger of blame saying it was the person‚Äôs fault.

But no one was ready in this early movement for what blessing meant. Keep in mind at the time, Blessing (beatitude) was assuming good health, wealth and prosperity due to being a good law follower and believer only in one God.

Brother Jesus’ prologue actions shattered ancient ableism, and the words to follow were ready to start the reflective pondering of societal change…a change that would culminate in a lynching.


Moses brought the Decalogue (10 commandments) down from Mount Sinai, they were re-taught after the exile in the book of Deuteronomy, and out of those sprung the laws and the prophets. With this fundamental cornerstone, you knew that Matthew (who tradition teaches was the former tax collector) wrote a gospel (political proclamation of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth) to Israel, well there would be something from a mount. The Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7), which can be seen reflected in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke 6:17-49. Luke’s (who was a physician that had set out to write an orderly history of the Christine movement) takes place where the disenfranchised toil. Matthew’s take place where those during freedom (much like the Exodus) had gathered to understand the point of all the rules that had oppressed them.

What should be a great opportunity of foundation teachings of challenging oppressive authority, regimes, thought patterns, prejudices, hatreds, misogyny, ableism and anything else that separated us from the other, has been twisted in the very same way the religious authorities did 2000 years ago (and before and since). To simply control through passive or active abuse. Statements out of context around passivity, adultery and even the beatitudes or woes.

It is a misunderstanding that happens many time when one comes into a religious text believing that the black and white on the page is eternally and implicitly infallible. What is missed is the context of the past and the experience of the now. What is missing is that unlike how it is presented, it was not a one-way lecture or diatribe or simple question and answer. In the time, this was probably over several hours or days, with food, and many interjecting, questioning and puzzling. The equity and equality that grew within the Jesus movement would mean that all questions whether from men, women or children would be accepted (Paul would address this challenge in synagogue style Judeo-Christianity in his pastoral epistles in typical Paul faction, but that is a tangent for another time).

There will be posts breaking down the teachings into easily reflective tidbits because there is a fallacy to rush through as it is only a few scant lines. Sadly, by rushing through the intent (spirit) behind the letter of the teaching can be lost. We tend to gloss over what the original hearer would have heard, and what that means for us today as we reflect into the words our own experience. There is a reason why ancient teachings continue to hold value beyond their original words. It is an intangible (much like ancient stories- see writings such as Joseph Campbell’s 1000 faces of the hero) that resonates throughout the DNA of the human story. This is what the primary focus of the Mount/Plains series is about. The secondary is to answer a question by some about what sermons from me when I was teaching/preaching would be like. There is the spiritual formation/discipline style you have read previously, now we enter the social justice work of learning to live the My Neighbour teachings and yes, the sermons of the Mount and Plains fall into those.

The question for you reader is simple:

Are you ready to change your world (personal and communal)?


Nederlands: bijbeluitgave 1611

Nederlands: bijbeluitgave 1611 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan’s Purse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Worldvision Enterprises

Worldvision Enterprises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew 6

Do Good to Please God

6 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.[a]

What are the boundaries on giving? What is the way we are to do this? This passage in Matthew during the Sermon on the Mount is jarring to our 21st century ear. Where we are used to be rewarded for our good works, or “charity” (and yes I cringe at the word C-H-A-R-I-T-Y for it implies that I know better than those I am trying to build community with, it is a power word and yes we need to acknowledge this).

So this came passage came up in the adult Sunday School class today in our discussion around Hospitality (a lifestyle for Christians is the underlying ethos of this educational series).  But the words of this passage struck me.

For it is so counter to what we are used to.

I remember as a youth pastor terminating my youth groups relationship with WorldVision, not because we did not believe in what they did (we actually still did a 30 hour famine for a non-profit), no the relationship was ended because, simply, the one that reached certain levels of donations were given rewards.

There was two things wrong with this:

1) It rewarded those of higher socio-economics

2) It built a discipleship mechanism that we are too expect to be rewarded or given something tangible for our willingness to give.

These were 2 messages I found counter to the Gospel of building a just world.

But there are so many other ways in the church we perpetuate this you must receive to give, and do to get, here are a few short examples to reflect on:

1) Tax receipts: do we give to our church because we believe int he mission? Feel called? or know that we will receive a kick back at year end tax season? What if the churches lost their tax exempt status?? Would we still financially support our church?

2) Building projects and fundraisers where we do door prizes and other prize draws to “reward” those who give… what is the underlying message here?

3) How do we share our stories when we do good work? Do we celebrate the individuals or the community? Is there a difference?

4) How do we do missions? At one point (I do not know if they still do this) Samaritan’s Purse required the families and children receiving shoe boxes to have to attend church to receive the present. Is this right? Should we expect someone to do something to receive blessing?

Hmmm…

Just points to ponder…with one final quesiton:

Are we called to charity or to justice?