What does it mean to be blessed? Scripture for Nov. 6

Matthew 5:1-16
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 hidden. 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.”

One of the best known and beloved passages in scripture, “The Beatitudes” appear in Matthew’s Gospel as the opening lines of the Sermon on the Mount. There is no suggestion that the “sermon” was something delivered at one time and in one place. Rather, it is clearly a collection of Jesus’ sayings, compiled and edited so as to appear as a single oration. These are sayings that were preserved in the oral tradition for decades until they were finally written down by Matthew toward the end of the first century. “The Beatitudes” have been translated in various ways. One popular version has Jesus saying “Happy are the poor in spirit . . . Happy are those who mourn . . . Happy are the meek . . .,” etc. Another popular writer refers to these verses as the “Be-Happy Attitudes.” In any case, this week’s sermon will explore the meaning of “blessing.” And we will think about the particular list of “blessed” people that Jesus offers: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, etc., etc. 

What does it mean to “bless” someone or something? What does it mean to “be blessed”?

Why do you think Matthew begins the Sermon on the Mount with “The Beatitudes”? What effect does this have on the rest of the “sermon”?

Relate the details of a time when you felt blessed.

Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian
Senior Minister

About PlymouthSpirit

Plymouth Congregational Church is a progressive faith community grounded in the Christian tradition. We are spiritual, loving, relevant and transforming.
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4 Responses to What does it mean to be blessed? Scripture for Nov. 6

  1. Larry Erickson says:

    My heart is ignorant and my mind can not feel. My heart, through feelings tells my mind something is happening. My mind is susposed to determine what is happening and what, if anything, to do about it. I am not blessed when I take actions based only on my feelings. I am not blessed when wander through life without feeling.
    Blessed am I when I am open and honest with my feelings and my mind allows me to take a reasonable action.

  2. Jane Thompson says:

    Blessing, it seems to me, is about those times when we experience or, call forth on behalf of another, a divine “hug” of sorts which allows for us to feel the presence of grace and wholeness.

    To offer a blessing is to move with an absolute spirit of generosity and open heartedness.

    To receive a blessing is to is to know, if only briefly, that we are held in the hands of God.

    • Jane Thompson says:

      correction to original: To receive a blessing is to know, if only briefly, that we are held in the hands of God. JT

  3. Karen Barstad says:

    In reading the Beatitudes, I wonder if Jesus was using these sayings as an attention-getting device. It seems to me that Matthew is relaying Jesus’ way of saying, “Pay attention to these people. They have something important to teach you. Despite the power of Caesar and those in control of the government and empire, these people – the meek, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted – are the ones who can guide us to a better life.” Jesus had a habit of turning life on its head, and the Beatitudes are one more example. In my own life, I need to pay more attention to those who appear to have no power. They have a message for me, and I need to watch for it.

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