In the Spirit of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), I offered these blessings to the Peace community this past weekend.
Blessed are you who are perfectionists (Any perfectionists out there? Notice I started with perfectionists because if I added you later you would have been offended for not being first.). Blessed are you perfectionists—life is hard for you. Blessed are you when no one meets your standards, not even you, yourself; when your drive to make everything right overtakes your desire to be in right relationship. Blessed are you when you crack under the weight of your own expectations. And blessed are you when a stream of grace flows into those cracks and you see yourself as God sees you. Your life matters to God and us. Jesus blesses you on your journey.
Blessed are you the doubters and sceptics who wonder if any of this could possibly be true; who scoff at the self-assured, ridicule the too-certain, but, secretly, long for a foundation that seems more secure. Blessed are you who don’t pack up your doubts and go home; who show up and walk and work among God’s people even as you long for an insight that never seems to come into view, search for a path that never seems to emerge, and hope for a life that is yet to be experienced. Blessed are you for your endurance, your perseverance, your willingness to let a life long journey be life-long. And you keep going. Your life matters to God and us. Jesus blesses you on the journey.
Blessed are the children—the wide eyed, huge hearted, naturally unconstrained children who experience the wonder of God in ways that many of us have lost. Blessed are you when you try and fail miserably, when you are compassionate and feel deeply, when you are silly and live freely. Blessed are you when you laugh and play out of a wild place within you that many adults have forgotten was ever there. And blessed are you for enduring us adults who think we know more than we do; who have padded our pocketbooks while impoverishing our soul, who have built great houses but invested too little in creating great homes, who have created a world that too often works against you—your natural curiosity, your creative energy, and your longing to be treated lovingly and not just texted, to be listened to and not just preached at, to be held when needed and released again not just hovered over and restrained. Your life matters to God and us. Jesus blesses you on the journey.
Blessed are you parents and grandparents who want to do the right thing but never know if it’s right at all. Blessed are you when you extend yourself in love and all you get is a roll of the eyes, when you make sacrifices that no one will ever notice or appreciate, when you make great plans but life’s great pains keep you from realizing them. Blessed are your tears—the tears of unspeakable joy and the tears of inconceivable heartache. Blessed are the moments when you stop comparing yourself to all the other parents and grandparents and simply remember who you are and offer that to those you love. Your life matters to God and us. Jesus blesses you on the journey.
Blessed are you who have known the gift of years (See what I did there? I didn’t say you were old. I said, “gift of years.”). Blessed are you whose spirits have been wounded by crisis, whose bodies have been worn by circumstance, whose minds have been wearied by change. Blessed are you when you are overlooked, disregarded, and left alone as the world races by. Blessed are you for your courage in the face of loss, your wisdom in the race of life, your ongoing generosity that creates a legacy of hope. Blessed are you also for bearing with the fanciful plans of each new generation and for not giving up. Your life matters to God and to us. Jesus blesses you on the journey.
Blessed are you when you are wrung out by life, when you run hard and the tank empties. Blessed are you who keep chasing though you are not sure what you are chasing anymore, keep striving though you wonder if it’s worth the strife, and keep succeeding but discover diminished meaning for your success. Coffee shops love you. You can even place your order and pick it up without having to talk to anyone. Prescription drug companies love you. Counseling services are hopelessly backed up with your inquiries. And blessed are you when your eyes are opened to new possibilities or a new way of thinking about your life or a new rhythm for your day. Or blessed are you when you begin to be open to the possibility of new possibilities. Or you are open to the possibility of new possibilities, possibly. Your life matters to God and us. Jesus blesses you on the journey.
Blessed are you who bear the seemingly unbearable weight of loss—an empty chair around the table through the death of a loved one, an empty space in your heart because of broken relationships, an empty hope for a world that seems incapable of changing. Blessed are you who are desperately lonely, whose dreams have shattered, whose lives don’t feel like they matter to anyone, who walk alone even surrounded by a sea of faces. And blessed are your caretakers and friends and companions who surprise you with their presence—the ones who stop by, who pick up the phone, who drop off a meal, who ask “How are you?”; whose work will never be rewarded with monuments but in moments, in minutes, in memories. Your life matters to God and us. Jesus blesses you on the journey.
Blessed are you the difference makers who are chronically dissatisfied with the world as it is; who relentlessly pursue God’s vision of a non-violent, compassionate, just, and hopeful world. Blessed are you who offer yourselves with no assurance that the world will change, only the sure knowledge that it will not change if people like you do not offer yourselves. Blessed are you when you are tired, discouraged, enraged by systems that work against a common good. And blessed are others—one other, dozens of others, hundreds of others, thousands of others whose lives are different, better, more whole because you didn’t quit, because you won’t quit. Your life matters to God and to us. Jesus blesses you on the journey.
It’s February 2018. These are my Beatitudes for this community.
Know this, people of Peace, wherever you are on this journey: You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. Note, I didn’t say—you might be or you could be or you will be when you get your act together. You are! Your life matters to God and to us. Jesus blesses you on the journey.