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Sometimes the lectionary texts seem to speak to the heart of the struggle. I’m still wrestling with my mixed responses to the Women’s March this last weekend as I am confronted with God’s justice requirements. Reading these texts tells me that I can’t be angry when people show up for justice even if they are later to the game than I was (because I was a lot later than I should have been). I can’t be angry when people show up and still don’t fully grasp the wider issues circling around. I can’t be angry when people think that a march is all about the fun and sense of community that it produces and forget the justice issues by the time they get home. Why? Because they showed up and it isn’t too late, not really. There’s plenty of work to be done even for the late-comers and for the ones who haven’t really opened their eyes or their hearts. The work for justice never ends, right?

I read that familiar passage in Micah about what the Lord requires and I’m convicted all over again. I can’t be angry that so many folks remain oblivious to doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God because, well, I’m not always so good at it myself. As I sit in my privileged place, I see how easily I once believed that all the inequality and injustice were “normal” and, therefore, right. And how slow I was to awaken to the truth. I also see how I let anger consume and nearly destroy me and justify my poor treatment of my neighbors. And humility, the kind that allows me to be fully myself and allows others to be fully themselves, is a daily battle. God asks something of me every day that I am often reluctant to give. I must be part of the movement for justice for all people even if I get it wrong sometimes. I have to take the risk of showing up and speaking out. And when I get it wrong, I have to be willing to apologize and learn a better way. I want to live in God’s tent even when it makes me decidedly uncomfortable. How ‘bout you?

Now we come to the very familiar Gospel text, the Beatitudes. At the St. Paul, MN Women’s March this weekend, a colleague changed the list to be more inclusive and specific to the issues of today. She inspired me to come up with my own version:

Blessed are the forgotten and forsaken, the ones we walk by and overlook, for heaven will be their home.
Blessed are those mothers who rage against the deaths of their black and brown skinned children whose blood flows in our streets, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the faithful Muslims and Jews who live under threat of hateful bombs, for they will inherit the Earth.
Blessed are those transgender, queer, and gender-nonconforming people who hunger and thirst for recognition and welcome, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the fierce ones who risk speaking truth and acting with mercy, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the quiet ones who show up when no one else does to speak a word of hope, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers and the justice-seekers who push us beyond what is into what needs to be, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who have had hate thrown at them in Jesus’s name, for theirs will be the realm of heaven.
Blessed are you when you speak truth to power, when you step away from the center to make room for the marginalized, and when you awaken to the injustice all around you. Others will revile you, but you will be loved beyond your imagining and your reward will be immeasurable.

God’s wisdom often looks like foolishness. May we all have the courage to make fools out of ourselves for the sake of Love.

What are you thinking about these texts this week? Where is the Spirit gently leading or urgently pushing you? Please join the conversation below that we may take this journey together.


Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, vlog, and books at Beachtheology.com.


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Photo: CC-BY-NC image by Rachael Keefe

17 thoughts on “RCL: Humility, Foolishness, and Blessing

  1. I’ve been thinking about two songs that are tugging at me, with regard to the beatitudes. The first is by Joan Baez:

    “Blessed Are…”

    Blessed are the one way ticket holders
    On a one way street.
    Blessed are the midnight riders
    For in the shadow of God they sleep.
    Blessed are the huddled hikers
    Staring out at falling rain,
    Wondering at the retribution
    In their personal acquaintance with pain.
    Blessed are the blood relations
    Of the young ones who have died,
    Who had not the time or patience
    To carry on this earthly ride.
    Rain will come and winds will blow,
    Wild deer die in the mountain snow.
    Birds will beat at heaven’s wall,
    What comes to one must come to us all.

    For you and I are one way ticket holders
    On a one way street.
    Which lies across a golden valley
    Where the waters of joy and hope run deep.
    So if you pass the parents weeping
    Of the young ones who have died,
    Take them to your warmth and keeping
    For blessed are the tears they cried
    And many were the years they tried.
    Take them to that valley wide
    And let their souls be pacified.

    The second is by Lucinda Williams:

    “Blessed”

    We were blessed by the minister
    Who practiced what he preached
    We were blessed by the poor man
    Who said heaven is within reach
    We were blessed by the girl selling roses
    Showed us how to live
    We were blessed by the neglected child
    Who knew how to forgive
    We were blessed by the battered woman
    Who didn’t seek revenge
    We were blessed by the warrior
    Who didn’t need to win
    We were blessed by the blind man
    Who could see for miles and miles
    We were blessed by the fighter
    Who didn’t fight for the prize

    We were blessed by the mother
    Who gave up the child
    We were blessed by the soldier
    Who gave up his life
    We were blessed by the teacher
    Who didn’t have a degree
    We were blessed by the prisoner
    Who knew how to be free
    We were blessed
    Yeah, we were blessed

    We were blessed by the mystic
    Who turned water into wine
    We were blessed by the watchmaker
    Who gave up his time
    We were blessed by the wounded man
    Who felt no pain
    By the wayfaring stranger
    Who knew our names
    We were blessed by the homeless man
    Who showed us the way home
    We were blessed by the hungry man
    Who filled us with love
    By the little innocent baby
    Who taught us the truth
    We were blessed by the forlorn
    Forsaken and abused

    We were blessed
    Yeah, we were blessed
    Mmm, we were blessed
    Yeah, we were blessed
    We were blessed

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s funny, since I’ve written them several more have popped into my head: Blessed are the unjustly detained and wrongfully imprisoned for they shall be liberated from the ignorance and fear that oppresses them now. Blessed are those tormented in body, mind, or spirit and remain unseen by the comfortable for they shall find wholeness. I could go on, but I’ll stop for now…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Right now I am toying with weaving the concepts of Micah and the Beatitudes together instead of getting into the specifics of the individual beatitudes.

    Where I am at a loss is the children’s time for either text. Any ideas starting to germinate for anyone?

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    1. Elaine, I will also be weaving the two texts together. I’m thinking of talking about kindness with the kids. I haven’t quite formulated how, but pointing out that we honor God, ourselves, and others when we are kind.

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  3. I’m preaching on Matthew today (Wednesday). I went the opposite direction with re-writing the Beatitudes – I re-wrote them as the worldly “beatitudes” (Blessed are the rich, for they shall become richer etc.) to point out the contrast between what is valued in God’s kingdom and what the world values. Which set of promises are we going to trust?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kate, that sounds great! I had a conversation with colleagues at a text study group and we talked about what the Beatitudes did not say… like “Blessed are the comfortable for they shall remain uninvolved…”

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    1. I am absolutely unable even to begin, for these reasons. I am so angry and– not quite despairing, but knowing that a small group in my congregation feel judged by my FB posts. I am really wondering how to do this.

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  5. I’m thinking of “Blessed are” and “Blessed be” as indicators of relationship with the Holy One and hearing the beatitudes as guides to and declarations of relationship with God. My task tonight is not to proclaim or declare but to engender reflection and conversation and hearing the Gospel with new ears. Thanks for the songs, Jennifer and Pat.

    Liked by 1 person

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