ESD Woes (inspired by Chapter 9 in Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Accidental Saints)
Gospel of Luke 6:20-26
Today’s Gospel lesson is from Luke chapter 6, part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain. Both Matthew and Luke share Jesus’ central teaching of the beatitudes, the blessings, but only Luke mentions the woes. Usually, on this first official Eucharist, I share what I call the ESD Beatitudes. Everyday as we sit in this amazing Chapel, we are surrounded by stained glass depictions of these teachings. Blessed are the poor, the meek, those who mourn….
Surrounded by this inspiration I am left wondering Who among us is the blessed? Who is made holy by God’s presence? Who does God deem to be holy? And so I’ve shared that if Jesus were here right now, teaching us, he might say
Blessed are the curious.
Blessed are those who doubt, who aren’t sure, who can still be surprised.
Blessed are they who are willing to admit they aren’t sure about God or love or trust or hope.
Blessed are those who have nothing to offer.
Blessed are those who have everything to offer.
Blessed are those who have to hide who they are for fear of letting anyone see their need and their pain.
Blessed are those who think that they aren’t hiding behind some mask of perfection.
You are of heaven and God has made you holy.
But this year, as I hear this gospel lesson, it is the woes that have caught my attention. I know it’s fun to just skip over the parts of scripture that make our hearts hurt, or our faith waver, or worse, make us think these stories are so ancient that they can’t offer us anything we can’t get from a google search or a good weekend binge watching Netflix….
Part of living the Christian faith, walking in the ways of Christ, is to walk in the things he taught that make us nervous because they hit close to home.
Listen to these woes- 4 powerful woes
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,for you will mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
What woes would Jesus says to us here at ESD?
Well maybe Jesus would say something like this:
Woe to us who hold onto what we own so tightly that we don’t know how to share. Someday we are going to learn a tough lesson on sharing what we have and in that moment we will be blessed by God because we will finally learn to loosen up and become generous.
Or maybe Jesus would say:
Woe to us who like to point out that we have more than other people by making them feel less about themselves because they have less. Someday we are going to realize that seeing people only through what they have makes for a lonely life and in that moment we will be blessed by God because we will finally have learned to make room for people who are different from us.
Woe to us who have all our needs met because someday we will realize we have to meet somebody’s else’s needs and we won’t be able to and in that moment we will be blessed by God because we will finally feel grateful for all that was done for us knowing that it is now our turn to give back.
Woe to us who like to laugh at the pain of others because that is one of the meanest things we all do and then when we finally know what it feels like because someone is laughing at us, although it may hurt, we are blessed by God because we will stop laughing at the pain of others and instead stand up for a community of kindness and mutual respect.
Woe to us who like to hear only good things said about us because someday we will hear someone give us feedback that will feel like it hurts and in that moment we will be blessed by God because we will finally realize that there is more to us than just accolades and praises and meeting someone else’s expectations.
The woes aren’t as fun I admit.
But they are necessary because they remind us of who we are as God’s children, greater than the minimum of what we think defines us like money, or stuff, or social power, or popularity, or praise.
We are all so much more than any of that.
Wonder with me today, how your life is holy and blessed.