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Sunday Worship 18 September | Jesus teaches the secret of happiness

Updated: Mar 3

Instead of a sermon, this morning we heard four translations or interpretations of the first part of the Sermon on the Mount.


Jesus teaches the secret of happiness (taken from the Children of God Storyteller Bible)
One day Jesus told his followers about God’s dream of a world where all the children of God are loved and cared for, and no one is left out.
Blessed are you who are poor, for all God’s world is yours.
Blessed are you who are hungry, for God will feed you.
Blessed are you who are sad, for God will comfort you and you will laugh again.
Blessed are you who feed the poor, for you are the hands of God.
Blessed are you who comfort the sad, for you are the arms of God.
Blessed are you who work for peace, for you are the voice of God.
Blessed are you who are loving and kind, for you are the heart of God.
You are the light of the world. Shine! Let the world see your goodness and therefore give glory to your Father in heaven.
If you are angry with your brother or sister, speak to them from your heart and make peace. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Love your enemies and pray for them, for they too are children of God. Do to others as you would have them do to you. What you give to the world, so the world will give to you.


Matthew 5:1-16 (NRSV)
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God 
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."


Matthew 5:1-15 (The Message)
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. This is what he said:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."

The Beatitudes (based on a Godly Play retelling)
Jesus went up to a mountain and the disciples followed him, and he taught them by giving examples of the blessings and the gifts of the kingdom.
He said blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This reminds me of the woman who had spent all her money on doctors to try and cure her bleeding. She must have felt almost without hope, but she placed what she had left in Jesus, and it made her well. Because faith can be as small as a mustard seed, a teeny tiny mustard seed that grows into such a big tree that the birds can find shade in its branches, and then in our poverty we may find God’s riches.
Jesus also said blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. This reminds me of Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus died. Even before Jesus raised him to life, he comforted them and they trusted him. Although we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the good shepherd is with us and cares for us, and resurrection is promised to all who trust in God, so we are never far from comfort.
Jesus said blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. This reminds me of the one leper out of ten who came back after Jesus healed them and said thank you. He had the humility and the patience to return, instead of rushing off into his new life, and he received an extra blessing for it, as Jesus commended him for his faith. This kind of meekness is not weakness, but recognising what God has done and so being ready to see what more God will do.
Jesus said blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled. This reminds me of the prophets like Isaiah, who called on the people to learn to do right and to defend the oppressed. He may not have seen an end to all injustice, but he was given a vision of a feast for all nations on God’s holy mountain, a place where death and disgrace will be swallowed up. At that feast, we shall all be filled with the righteousness of God.
Jesus said blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. This reminds me of Ruth, who was merciful to Naomi in their shared grief, and was shown mercy by Boaz in her quiet need. There was sorrow and sacrifice along the way, but finally there was celebration and satisfaction, and through that mercy came their descendant Christ and mercy for us all. The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and may we strive to be likewise.
Jesus said blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. This reminds me of the children who came to him for a blessing. The disciples tried to send them away but Jesus called them to himself, saying that anyone who wants to enter the kingdom of God must do so as a little child. The children surely did see God that day, and if we come with the same openness and simplicity, seeking nothing more than the presence and love of Christ, surely we shall too.
Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. This reminds me of Joseph, whose arrogance tore his family apart, but who finally brought about reconciliation. He learnt forgiveness, and in doing so he restored not only his family, but the people of God. Our heavenly Father desires peace, and as children of our Father, we should share in that vision and work for its fulfilment.
Jesus said blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This reminds me of Stephen who was stoned for his beliefs, the first martyr for Christ. He was honoured for his faith, and his death was part of the story of Saul who became Paul, whose mission spread the word of Christ across the known world. God does not wish for us to suffer, but good can be made of it when we face hardship with integrity, as a seed dying to bring new life.
Matthew wrote down these words so that we too can be here on this mount with Jesus. I wonder what you would say to Jesus today. I wonder what Jesus would say to you.



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