Week #4 is Sunday, January 27, 2019 – Narrative Lectionary Story: Matthew 5:1-20
Theme: In this familiar piece of poetry, Jesus promises God’s favor to the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted. We can each find ourselves in this list somewhere. Why Jesus? Because Jesus is blessing.
Video Intro: Arlene Higgins, a member of Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN, ponders at the mystery of how Jesus has been and is a blessing in her life. Arlene shares the grounding faith of her parents’ in shaping her faith and trust in Jesus and the unexpected angels of mercy and care who tended for her after the premature death of her parents. She eloquently speaks of her vocational calls to teaching, marriage, motherhood and lay congregational leadership and the blessing within each of those calls. For Arlene, why Jesus? Because Jesus is a blessing . . . in times of grief and joy. Check it out!
Readers Theater of Matthew 5 that can be used in worship instead of the regular reading.
Sunday School Curriculum: Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request the curriculum from Epiphany, January 6 thru Transfiguration, March 3.
Music is has been written especially for the Why Jesus? Project, but here are a few suggestions:
- Gathering or Opening Hymn (ELW) #720 – We Are Called
- Hymn of the Day (ELW) #728 – Blest Are They or Blessed to Be a Blessing (Why Jesus)
- Communion Hymn – Behold, I Stand at the Door (Why Jesus)
- Sending or Closing Hymn (ELW) #671 – Shine, Jesus, Shine
Here are Music Selections for Each Week
Other Sermon Ideas:
- Check out what some popular theologians say about the Beattitudes: Frederick Buechner on the Beatitudes: “…Jesus saved for last the ones who side with heaven even when any fool can see it’s the losing side and all you get for your pains is pain. Looking into the faces of his listeners, he speaks to them directly for the first time. “Blessed are you,” he says. You can see them looking back at him. They’re not what you’d call a high-class crowd….” For more information, read the entry from “Whistling in the Dark” and later “Beyond Words.” Brendan Freeman, a Trappist monk from Iowa, says this, “[The Beatitudes] draw our hearts out of themselves into a new way of understanding our lives…they are deliberately incomplete. They await the inclusion of our lives. Each person fills in the blank spaces with the details of his or her own life situation.” How might you engage people to fill in the blanks? Reflection sheet on your sermon? Prayer stations? Barbara Brown Taylor, in her book Gospel Medicine, says this, “Much of the power of the Beatitudes depends on where you are sitting when you hear them. They sound different from on top than they do underneath. They sound different up front than they do in back. Upon front with the religiously satisfied and self-assured, they sound pretty confrontational…but way in the back, with the victims, the dreamers, the pushovers and the fools, the Beatitudes sound completely different…They are the same words in every place, of course. It is just the ears that change.”
- Mourners/Comforters: At different times in life, we are one or the other to each other. How might you contrast these two things in your sermon?
- Blessed Defined: How we see and experience God at work in the world, in our communities, in our homes? Presbyterian minister Fred Rogers said: “The kingdom of God is for the broken hearted.” How do you define blessed?
- Beatitudes Made Flesh: Beatitudes as “Good Adventure to you” & the Sainted Work of Oscar Romero: With the recent canonization of the slain Archbishop, here is a link to a sermon by the late Rev. Jorge Lara-Braud, who was a friend of the Archbishop, a professor and lay minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
- All Belong Here: Music from The Many: “Come and remember who you are here, Do this to remember who I am. Come and remember you belong here. All belong here.”
- Beatitudes for Friends & Family (author unknown):
Blessed are you who take time
to listen to difficult speech,
for you help us persevere until
we are understood.
Blessed are you who walk with us
in public places
and ignore the stares of strangers,
for we find havens of relaxation
in your relationship.
Blessed are you who never bid
us to “hurry up,”
and more blessed are you who
do not snatch our tasks
from our hands to do them for us,
for often we need time – rather than help.
- Video Idea: L’Arche communities in the United States, Canada and Europe provide homes and workplaces where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers. L’Arche Dance and Drama Group created this interpretation of the Beatitudes in 2013.
Props: Candle and tea lights
Where do you go when there is a storm? (Wait for kids to respond that they go to their basements; a safe room; etc.) That’s right! We go to these places to feel safe. Jesus tells us in today’s story that when we feel sad, when we feel lonely, that when we feel sick, when people hurt us with their words, and when we have the courage to be kind, Jesus is with us. Just like we feel safe in a room during a storm, Jesus makes us feel safe when we face these difficult things. In fact, Jesus tells us that not only is he with us, but we can be present for people when they are hurting, we can care for God’s people. We can be like a lighted candle in the darkness. (Light the candle.) We can let our lights shine.
This reminds me of a song I think you know. It’s called, “This Little Light of Mine.” I am sure that there are many people in this room that can help me sing this song. (Pastor/Leader puts up pointed finger and begins singing “This Little Light of Mine.” The leader as the entire congregation to sing along.)
I have a basket of tea lights that I brought with me today. I encourage you to bring this home with you today and ask your family to light it during mealtime tonight. As a family, discuss ways that as a family you be a light in the world and the way Jesus is a light and a blessing in your world.
Why Jesus? Because Jesus is a blessing.
Let’s pray: Jesus we are thankful that you promise to be with us not only when things are good in our life, but also when they are difficult. Help us to be this kind of blessing in the lives of our family and friends. Amen. (Pass out tea lights to every child that comes forward for the children’s message to bring home.)
What is the Why Jesus Project? Check out the FAQ on Why Jesus? Home Page.