Blessings and woes

November 3, 2010

Since this seems to be "bare your soul week" at DT, I'm going to take
the chance today to let you know that I prefer the beatitudes in Matthew
over those found in Luke's text for this All Saints' Day, and I'll tell
you why.

Matthew's version (here)
are more spiritual in nature, less concrete, and therefore are easier
to handle. I can deal with the poor in spirit, the meek, and those who
hunger and thirst for righteousness. These are discipleship issues; a
means to the end of sanctification. They preach easily.

Luke's version (here),
on the other hand, are sticky and real and have been used by the powers
that be to keep the impoverished and oppressed down for almost 2000
years. How can middle class Americans hear "blessed are the poor, the
hungry, and those who weep" and "woe to you who are rich, full, happy,
and well liked" and have them make a real impact on their lives? The
poor and rich alike are lost and in need of God's grace. The hungry and
full are in the same place. Even the happy and the sad are in need of
God. So why is one group blessed and one woe'd?
Many
of the names in my now outdated copy of Lesser Feasts and Fasts came
from well-to-do families, and we celebrate their lives and ministries,
but shouldn't they be cautionary tales based on Jesus' Sermon on the
Plain?
I get that I'm taking this too far and
probably too literally, but as preachers it is imperative that we
struggle with these texts. When they make sense and are easy, we have
lost their meaning. When they make us feel good, we have fallen out of
God's path, I am certain. So, how do you hear blessings and woes? Do
you spiritualize them like Matthew? Are they concrete? Do they bless
you or curse you?
Originally posted at Draughting Theology, part of the CCblogs network.