Jesus looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,for yours is the kingdom of God. (Read the whole passage)
We find ourselves coming near the end of church year. All Saints Sunday is a herald of the closing year and the coming of Advent. In only two weeks, comes Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday of this church cycle. And so in this regard, All Saints takes us to places of beginnings and ends, birth and old age, life and death.
In the past two weeks, we have already marked the occasion of All Saints as we laid to rest members of our community. And today, we will broaden the occasion. We will remember both with joy and grief, those saints who have gone before us, those loved ones who have died. But it is not just the saints whom we have buried in the ground, but also those whom we have drowned in the waters of baptism this past year that we remember and pray for as well.
Saints, so to speak, can be a fairly broad category. The Church of Rome, has compiled their list of saints under strictly maintained standards. Other protestant churches often avoid saint talk all together. Lutherans have a favourite phrase to identify ourselves: ‘ Sinner and Saint’.
All these different definitions of who and what saints are, muddy our understanding of what a saint is. But probably we could agree that a saint is someone holy, or in other words a blessed person. And blessings is what Jesus is talking about today.
For All Saints Sunday, we hear Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Plain. It is a sermon that is well known and often quoted. Blessings and Woes. And these are not the heavenly minded blessings of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount which reads: Blessed are the poor in spirit. Luke is concrete and direct. Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. These are concrete blessings that have to do with rich and poor, hungry and filled, laughing and weeping, hate and respect. And more specifically, they have to do with you… and me, and us… they are not about some abstract group of people.
The thing is, that lately, the version of the blessings and woes that we have been hearing in our world are quiet different than Jesus’. As the US elections looms over the entire world, we all know the version of blessings and woes that one particular candidate seems to be preaching. But just for fun, maybe we could imagine them going something like this:
“The poor are a bunch of losers,
for they deserve to be poor. Get a job! Which I alone can give.
“The hungry, what a bunch of lazy bums,
just get some food, I mean c’mon.
“Sad people, the worst, the worst,
sad poeple haven’t done anything for the world, let me tell you.”
“But rich people, I love rich people,tremendous.
I love just ‘em. I am really rich, by the way.
“And people with lots to eat,We gotta protect people with lots to eat.
We gotta do something for them.
“And happy people, happy people are the best
I will be the greatest president for happy people. No one else will be a better president for happy people”
“Now listen, we are going to make things great again, trust me.”
The beatitudes according to today.
But before we feel too smug because we would never preach this version, this perspective on what it means to be blessed and cursed is one that we all have the capacity to believe. The old sinner within each of, the part of us that carries our fears and anxieties and desire for security and control, that part of us want to hold on to what we have, even if that means those around us go without. The part of us is controlled by fear and anxiety worries that sharing with others who don’t have as much might make us miss out.
And yet, the world’s version of the beatitudes are held up to us like a mirror, and we start to see how destructive they truly are. We begin to see that a world that operates according to this version is not a world we want to live in.
And so when Jesus offers his version of blessings and curses, it challenges this accepted version of things that exists in our world. It challenges the idea that the rich and happy are blessed, while the poor and persecuted are cursed. So what are we to do Jesus’ version?
Unlike the world’s version of the beatitudes which tell us what should try for – try to be rich and avoid being poor.
Jesus’ beatitudes are not a prescription on how to be blessed. Rather they are descriptive. They are poetic words about life. They are a painting of joy and suffering. They are music that speaks to our hearts and minds. They are reminders of where God is through the blessings and woes of life.
When Jesus talked about blessing, he is naming God’s presence. Jesus is telling where God shows up in life.
We can hear what it means to be blessed in the words that are proclaimed at the end of every service:
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord’s face shine upon you with grace and mercy.
The Lord look upon you with favour and give you peace.
We bless each other to say that God is with us. We pronounce blessings at baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals, on normal green Sundays, on Christmas Eve and Easter Morning, at the beginning and end of the day. We bless each other in times of joy and sadness, in times of celebration and grief. Because God goes with us at all these times.
Yet, God does not stop there. God does not simply promise to be with us. God shows us the way through the blessings and woes of life. God, through Jesus, comes down from heaven and into flesh to be blessed by us. To bring us close to the divine. As Jesus preaches blessings and woes, he points to the cross. He points to the cross, as he foreshadows the weeping and mourning and persecution to come. The cross is where Jesus earns our sainthood. Our sainthood is earned in Christ’s death and resurrection.
On the cross, Christ declares us saints. Because to be saints, is not really about being holy as far as God is concerned. It is not about being rich or full or happy. It is not about security and power and control. Because one of the truths about the world’s beatitudes is that the longer and louder they are preached, the more obvious it becomes that no amount of wealth, power and security will actually make us feel blessed enough. And in fact, it becomes clear that we all belong to the cursed group. We all need to be blessed, we all need something, someone bigger than ourselves to bring us real hope and real grace and mercy.
The truth of the Beatitudes is that they are are not about blessings as we usually think of them. To be blessed by God, is to be loved. And it is divine love that we discover on the cross. It is the Crucified God who blesses us and claims us as his own. The poor, the hungry, the weeping, the persecuted… they are blessed because God is with them. God is with us.
The beatitudes of Jesus that we read today are the true hope of All Saints Sunday. As we remember, and as we continue to grieve all those who have died, God blesses us and keeps us. As we struggle with being poor or being rich, with being blessed or being cursed, God shines his face upon us with grace and mercy. As we search for peace in a troubled world, God looks upon us with favour. And God promises peace that will carry us and all the saints until the end.
Header Image: https://onehundredbillionsuns.com/2016/08/05/the-beatitudes-by-donald-trump/
6 thoughts on “The Beatitudes According to Trump”
Excellent. I find it disturbing that prominent Evangelical leaders in the United States have endorsed Trump and, implicitly, I believe, the version of the beatitudes you have presented in irony, Erik. But then again. should we be surprised considering the cultural popularity of the “health and wealth gospel”?
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“The Beatitudes according to Christ”
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are you when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, Untruly, for my sake. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.
Your life, our children’s life and our future children’s life matter. Life is very precious that God our Creator gave us. If we don’t fight for life, what future generations will we have. One child equals a complete generation.
Deep sigh. I weep for our generation. Provoked to prayer.
I notice that another commenter, Mr. Foerger, says he weeps for [his] generation because Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton will be our next president. I was curious about his perspective and learned that he speaks of entering the “third third of life” and is appreciating the “role of elders.”
I’m nearing the “three score and ten” mark which enables me to remember some facts of life which he may not have fully experienced. I remember the excitement of southern Americans when Hillary’s husband Bill first competed for the presidential office. “We could have a Southern boy for President!”, they exclaimed. I’d spent my life living much closer to the Clinton’s home state of Arkansas and I’d seen the coverage of their financial scandals and Bill’s serial adultery and perverse sexual immorality which Hillary enabled. I told my farther-south neighbors that having a regionally-favorite son was fine, but not that one. “The Clintons,” I told them, “will embarrass you,” and they did.
Mr. Foerger weeps because a pair of immoral, dishonest liars did not get elected in a country not of his residence. But he would not realize their sinful character and that they are far more arrogant toward the poor because their broadcast media package is just the opposite.
And you, Rev. Erik Parker, live in Canada also. Your sarcastic rewriting of Luke’s Beatitudes to fit your limited understanding of Mr. Trump’s recent image in the obviously pro-Clinton media was a pitifully judgmental smear “just for fun,” as you add with a naughty smirk.
Of course, you wrote that piece before the end of a particularly rough and tumble campaign season in which Mr. Trump’s broadcast entertainment image as a blustering “Mr. Rich” overshadows his working-class background. And you wrote it, ignorant of the fact that like professional wrestlers, boxers and others who play violent opponents in sports, politicians sometimes even travel, eat and relax in each other’s company out of the public eye. You certainly wrote it before Mr. Trump’s serious, heartfelt and embracing speech on the day after the election.
I don’t know whether you’ll allow this post to show on your blog, but I have to share it with you. I subscribed to your blog because I thought you had some good things to say, but “The Beatitudes according to Trump” sure hasn’t been one of them.
Despite the fact that I am no fan of Trump, I was actually clear in my sermon not to name any candidate by name. As well I also made clear that the kind of thinking I named in my sermon is a result of original sin, which we are all capable and guilty of.
But let’s get some facts on the table. Trump has no working class background. He comes from a wealthy real estate family.
Your point about those in violent sports and politics seems to have little bearing. Politics doesn’t need to be a violent sport, as evidenced by Canada’s current government. Violent words and stances are a choice, not just the way things are.
Trump’s speech was not embracing. Americans may think Trump represents their values. But as Canadian and a Christian I find him to be foible of those sets of my values. More importantly, his values are not those of Christ and that is why I used some of his views in my sermon. As an example of what the world holds to, opposite of the God we worship.
I’m in a state of shock after reading what the President of my country wrote about the beatitudes. I was in the process of writing a letter to my almost 17 year old granddaughter for her birthday. I wanted to let her know what her grandfather and I were doing the day she was born. We were at the Field Museum in Chicago, viewing fragments of the beatitudes that were traveling all over the United States. They were handled with such great care since being found by a shepherd in 1947. I didn’t vote for Mr. Trump nor do I like him. I love him because that’s what were suppose to do as Christians. Our country was founded with One Nation Under God with Liberty and Justice for all. He needs to be reminded of this and also to remember to thank God for all his Blessings.