You may well have seen reports that Churches are to be allowed to open for worship from Wednesday. Whilst this is good news it is not carte blanche to reopen completely and start Sunday Worship as of old. The Church offices are preparing guidelines and these will be available mid week.
Please give thanks for progress, but do not imagine we are anywhere near “back to normal” yet.
Matthew 5: 1 – 2
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
Several years ago I decided to preach my way through Matthew’s Gospel, starting in Advent so we got his account of the Nativity and its aftermath. I had reached Chapter 5 about the beginning of February. This introduction above is the start of the Beatitudes and I thought it would take six Sundays to preach on them satisfactorily, it didn’t turn out that way and in the end I had to skip most of the Gospel as we neared the end of Lent, and after Easter I went back and picked up where I had left off. These few verses are said, with some justification, to be the most important in the Bible, save the story of Easter, so I thought as we head towards ‘unlockingup’ I might go through each Blessing in turn.
Before doing that let us not skip over Matthews introduction. Matthew is not given to wasting words, so the intro is just as important.
Jesus was sat when he taught. This is significant when a Rabbi or a Priest was instructing or teaching serious matters he always sat down to speak so it is significant that Matthew notes this. What was to follow was important.
In the NIV translation above it just says “he began to teach” but in the other translations and indeed in the original Greek it says “He opened his mouth and he began to teach”. The phrase opening his mouth is not just a more prosaic way of saying he spoke in the Greek idiom, it means that what he is saying is the gravest of solemn utterances. In the Greek tradition the Oracles always “Opened their mouths”.
Matthew is making it clear to his readers that what follows is important and not to be rushed.
Over lockdown we have seen God give us Blessings, the selflessness of many, the generosity, the way people have shared and cared for one another.
For these Blessings and so much more we have a duty to say thank you to our God and provider.
Lord God our loving Father, we thank you again for your blessings bestowed upon us. At times they have been hard to find for some, but they are there. Help us not only find our blessings, but may we be part of someone else’s.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,