I wonder if, like me, you feel as though this year could be a ‘bumpy ride’?
Divisiveness and scaremongering lurk in many guises, and unless we are careful about our ‘touch’ on the world and all its people, divisiveness will cause us to stumble... and fall.
But take heart... turn your eyes to Jesus and follow his ways which lead to life for the earth and all its people.
Because Jesus is the one who showed us how to love well; because Jesus taught us to include – not exclude; because Jesus is the one who warned us against causing people to stumble... and fall; because Jesus is the one who lived and moved amongst those who were outcast in the deeply divided world of the time... we have a clear example to follow.
It’s because of Jesus example that Christians believe that our faith must be practiced in both words and activities that unite and lead to life.
The Gospel writer Matthew recalls (in chapter 5: 1 – 12) how Jesus taught that we are blessed when we are merciful... when we are peacemakers... and when we are persecuted for looking to Jesus, following Jesus’ way and copying his example.
Because of these and other words and actions of Jesus, I think he would be telling us today that, no matter what or who you hear telling you to think differently…
You are blessed when you hold on to every ounce of idealism and humanity you have that demonstrate our common humanity;
You are blessed when you are prepared to struggle against racism, sexism, derogatory language, abuse of disabled people... the list goes on... (of course);
You are blessed when you live simply, when you share, and when you challenge greed, whenever and however it rears its ugly head; You are blessed when you are as happy to give as to receive;
You are blessed when you show mercy, when you keep loving, forgiving and healing;
You are blessed when you seize every opportunity to build stronger and kinder communities where you live and work;
You are blessed when you do not stay silent when you witness oppression, even if it costs you... because, in the long run, the human price of not doing so is so much greater;
You are blessed when you speak up for people, and speak up for this precious earth, because it is the only home we have in the universe... it is God created, with a richness of variety and intrinsic diversity;
You are blessed when you create opportunities to laugh together, pray together, talk and struggle together with people who think differently about life and about God;
You are blessed when you include people and resist any suggestions that you should exclude;
You are blessed when you create opportunities and take chances to meet and talk with the people others would have you believe are different... unwelcome...
And why are we blessed when we behave in these ways? Because these behaviours demonstrate what God’s Kingdom is like.
So, when we live with the integrity and wisdom that Jesus demonstrated we are bringing about God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven” (as we pray whenever we pray the prayer Jesus taught us).
Faith is a way of life as well as belief. And if we don’t live in the way Jesus demonstrated, we simply and easily add to the divisiveness that threatens the world... even if we stay silent.
Jesus said... “You are blessed when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account... Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 11 – 12a)
Revd. Janine Atkinson