Sunday 29th January 2023
Psalm 15 | Micah 6 : 1 – 8 | 1 Corinthians 1 : 18 – 31 | Matthew 5 : 1 – 12
This reflection is provided by Local Preacher, Naomi Sharp.
Imagine… you have a beautiful vase which has been sitting on a shelf for years and years. Maybe
you don’t notice it some of the time because you are so used to it being there. Then one day
somebody does some dusting and puts the vase back in a different position, perhaps back to front, and suddenly you see it in a different way, a “wow, yes! It really is beautiful” kind of way. It is still the same vase, but your perspective has changed – you see it from a different angle.
Do you have access to The Message version of the Bible? (You can find it online). If so, then I
would encourage you to look up this passage from Matthew’s gospel, known as the Beatitudes,
and read it. For me, reading the Beatitudes in The Message version is a bit like turning the beautiful vase around. Verse three begins: You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.
I’m not sure that I would automatically think “poor in spirit” when I read this interpretation, but I do think, “Yes! I know about being at the end of my rope, I can relate to that!” And right there, I am drawn in. For me this translation brings an immediacy which recaptures something of what it was like for the crowd which the Gospel describes there on the mountain.
Matthew chapter five begins:
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were
apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and
taught his climbing companions. (The Message).
I love this image of discipleship, as being a “climbing companion” of Jesus. Certainly, when life is rather uphill, the thought of Jesus being my climbing companion is reassuring. But what is the
view from this hillside that Jesus shows his companions? It seems to be that things are upside down from his point of view, wonderfully upside down. Each saying that Jesus offers points to moments of blessing from the most contradictory circumstances. He doesn’t say, you’re blessed when you have got everything under control, or when everyone admires you, or when you have no worries (which is a bit of a relief). Things are upside down with Jesus, in the sense that what he values is the opposite of what you might humanly expect. The wonder of it is that God may be found in exactly those upside – down places: places of grief, of humility, of suffering for your faith for example. From this “climber’s” simple viewpoint the Beatitudes start by saying to us: When we find ourselves in one of these situations struggling along uphill, we can be reassured because God may be found there.
Lord Jesus, thank you for choosing me as a climbing companion.
As you know, my head for heights isn’t always very good, and I sometimes find the going tough.
Thank you for meeting me in these moments.
May I be open to receive your blessings then.