The whole situation was depressing. Originally, when my parents told us kids that we were moving, I was excited. We moved quite a bit when I was young, and each move was an adventure. This time appeared no different.
We were moving from the farm into town. We had never lived in town before. We were moving from dusty roads to sidewalks of pavement on a college campus where bikes could be ridden endlessly. As I said, there was a lot to be excited about.
The depression set in the second we saw our new apartment…our new home. Moving from an old farmhouse with ample room for our family of five, I was shocked to step into the two bedroom apartment where the largest room, the living room/kitchen, was no bigger than most people’s bedrooms. There was no room for even a small kitchen table. We had to eat our meals around the coffee table.
Wandering down the hall I discovered that all three of us boys would have to fit into a closet sized bedroom, with barely enough room to fit three air mattresses on the floor.
The next day at school, I found almost no one with whom I could eat a meal, except two guys who looked like they had discovered drugs by age 2.
At our new church, which was much bigger than our small family church back in Minnesota, I felt sort of forgotten that first Sunday. Feeling alone, sitting in the pew with no one welcoming our family because the church was big enough that they probably did not realize we were visitors, I stared ahead in 13 year old misery. My spirit was crushed.
Quite frankly, most of the service went by without notice. It was all droning to my 13 year old ears. However, the droning stopped with one phrase uttered by the pastor. This one phrase pierced through the misery.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Though the words were first uttered to his disciples 2000 years ago, it seemed as if the words were uttered just to me. It seemed as if God had searched through the loneliness of the world and found me, desiring to raise me out of the miry clay.
The beatitudes still pierce the loneliness of those who sit, searching for guidance and reassurance from Jesus.
Those who are struggling with losing someone special are pulled out of the darkness with the words, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Those who sit, feeling powerless in a world of deal makers and power brokers are struck that they are even remembered, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Those who strive for a better world outside the walls of the church…which is often a lonely sort of life because most people do not wish to rock the boat...are reassured with the voice of encouragement that says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Those who have been labeled bleeding hearts by the world find a place to call their own in the words, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Those who have been chastised for naively believing that love can conquer all find a kindred spirit through the words, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Those who step away from inflammatory words find their rest on the promise, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
And, those who have been called evil or stupid for loving all that is good in the world find their home as Jesus utters, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Many of us come to the church and sit down feeling alone, but as the blessings are proclaimed, we look around the space and start to see our heavenly family.
“You have been mighty quiet throughout the service,” the older gentleman sitting next to me whispered during the offering. “I’m Gerald,” he offered a hand to shake. “Did you know we have donuts after the service? I think you need to have a donut with me.”
That is when it happened. That is the moment when a soul who was poor in spirit encountered a person of mercy. That is the moment when the blessed found a home together.
Who knew my first friend would be 59 years older than me? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The promise was true.
That is how it works in Jesus’ kingdom. The mourners are comforted by the pure in heart, the poor in spirit are given respite by the peacemakers, and the meek are given voice by those who thirst and hunger for righteousness. Gathered together in the body of Christ, we are blessed by the gifts of one another in the kingdom of heaven.
Just this weekend, the spirits of several individuals were broken as their dreams of a new life in the land of the free and the home of the brave were stopped short at the airport. A ban on refugees and immigrants from a list of specific countries had gone into affect while they flew over the ocean. Pressing noses to the glass within the airport, freedom just a mere, transparent inch away, hope faded quickly. “Blessed are the poor is spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Though they felt alone, stranded in a no-man’s-land within the airport, they were not. God had blessed some other people. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice, stuck out their own necks in the courtrooms on behalf those stranded, spirit crushed people.
For some, freedom was denied, but for a few others, the air of freedom was finally breathed as they walked onto US soil.
We are blessed by the gifts of one another in the kingdom of heaven. Rejoice and be glad! Blessed are you! Holy are you! Rejoice and be glad! Drawn to one another through blessing, Jesus gives us the kingdom of heaven.