The Fourth Sunday After Epiphany A
The Fourth Sunday After Epiphany A
vs3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
vs10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
As Mary’s Magnificat indicated, the arrival of the Christ and the kingdom of heaven with him turns the geographical landscape and human expectations topsy-turvy. These beatitudes concern the kingdom and the conditions within it. They are framed between two beatitudes of the kingdom, vs. 3 & vs 10. Luther knew the kingdom of God operated by faith rather than by sight when he wrote, “God receives none but those who are forsaken, restores health to none but those who are sick, gives sight to none but the blind, and life to none but the dead… He has mercy on none but the wretched and gives grace to none but those who are in disgrace” (WA1, p.183f).
These Beatitudes reverse the expectations of the world, here those expectations are overturned verse-by-verse…
Vs. 3–Not the spiritually successful but the spiritually poor.
Vs. 4–Not those celebrating their gains but those mourning their losses.
Vs. 5–Not those with reason to be boastfully proud but the meek.
Vs. 6–Not those who possess righteousness but those with the deepest longing for the righteousness that comes to them from the heart of God.
Vs. 7–Not those who have no need of mercy but those whose only option is to be merciful.
Vs. 8–Not those whose heart still belongs to themselves but the one whose heart consists solely of the life of Christ.
vs. 9–Not those who ration the peace brought by the forgiveness of sins but those who propagate the family of God.
Vs. 10–Not those promoting their own righteousness but those despised by the world for having the righteousness of Christ.
This kingdom does not yet possess the glory of sight but remains known only in Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone.
Prayers from one who is quite familiar and comfortable with the expectations of the world and who possesses more than a little fear about overturning those expectations…
Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant to me such faith in Christ that my fears of losing the world’s expectations and having a life under your ways are alleviated. My Lord, make it so!
Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, turn me from… repent me of… looking to the world’s expectations in order to know what to expect in your kingdom for you have prepared things no eye has seen… no ear heard… no mind imagined… all for the delight of those who come into it. My Lord, make it so!
Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant to me the joy of publishing abroad the good news of your kingdom’s arrival in the gospel of Jesus Christ so that all who hear receive the forgiveness of their sins. My Lord, make it so!
Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant me neighbors who are unafraid to speak the forgiveness of sins to me so that I, too, would be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven. My Lord, make it so!
Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant me such gladness in the coming of your kingdom to me that my labor on behalf of my neighbor’s needs overflows spontaneously from that gladness. My Lord, make it so!
Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant to the Institute of Lutheran Theology an ongoing proclamation of your Word so that it, too, would bring your kingdom among us. My Lord, make it so!
Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant me such certainty of your kingdom’s presence come to me that, even when my thinking, feeling, and doing contradict its presence, I return again and again to hear your Word and receive your Sacraments which restore my faith that your kingdom is indeed present. My Lord, make it so!
To you, Father, I pray, confident that you hear me and will indeed make it so. Amen