|Photo by Christina Honchell|
It was the culmination of an hour of talks, filled with prayers and stories that touched all of us in the church. Theologically, there wasn't anything that differed markedly from what we at All Saints Pasadena usually hear from our pulpit. What felt different was her delivery.
She's direct and to the point. She doesn't shirk from swearing. Nadia sticks to being her authentic self. She did confide that she's had discussions in the past with her bishop about her communication style, but by being true to herself, she shows herself to be more honest and believable in her relationship with God.
That's not to say that those who don't swear have an untrue relationship. She just won't change herself superficially just to be polite.
One of the most moving moments was when Nadia shared her modern Beatitudes. I include them here for you.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex-workers and the night shift street sweepers. Blessed are the losers and the babies and the parts of ourselves that are so small. The parts of ourselves that don’t want to make eye contact with a world that only loves the winners. Blessed are the forgotten. Blessed are the closeted. Blessed are the unemployed, the unimpressive, the underrepresented. Blessed are the teens who have to figure out ways to hide the new cuts on their arms. Blessed are the meek. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
As you can see she took the original and expanded them with examples that may resonate more effectively to the modern ear, especially here in the USA. The original Beatitudes are from the Sermon on the Mount and are in Matthew 5:3-11.
I can't stop thinking about this updated list. It's similar but it focuses on things that are more tangible, more direct. They arise from stories in the pews and in the streets. She didn't change the blessings. She painted real faces, faces awash in tears, of those who the blessings are poured upon.
So since her talk, I've been thinking about my own examples of the Beatitudes. Her examples are from her ministry. We all have different ministries and my will seem different from hers. After much reflection, I find the my list to be already formed in my head but, until now, not written down.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
the spiritual but not religious
the seekers of their authentic selves
the suffering who begin to doubt because the pain never seems to end
the sick who fear their own bodies
the stranger in our midst who needs a smile, a hug, a friend
the child afraid to venture outside lest the bullying return
the scared who fear coming home lest they return to a place of anger and judgment
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
the spouse who lost the person they've loved deeper than we can understand
the lovers who no longer find the trust and joy in each other's arms and say goodbye
the child who doesn't understand why her parent won't be coming home anymore
the friends who viewed a couple as one, as was meant to be, but now just find hollow eyes
the family shocked at the loss of someone taken too soon by gun violence
the relatives whose loss is viewed by others as collateral damage
the breaking hearts who did not even have a chance to say goodbye
the silent who must watch dementia steal someone's memories away leaving just a body
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
the teenager who stays in the closet, fearing that the name of their love will be discovered
the pained who turn to the bottle or to pills to give them strength and energy
the thinker and artist that lacks the opportunity to share
the pastors who heal others but wonder who will tend to them
the friend who realizes that somehow their bodies and souls don't fit a M/F binary
the nurse who washes our sores
the friend that listens to hear us, watches to see us, and grabs our hands to hold us
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
the foreigner who is told to leave and go to a place of fear and hunger
the friends who cannot walk down the street in a hoodie or even complain about injustice
the mother who just wants to get affordable medical care to plan a family
the inmate facing the final judgment of Man and not our Creator
the families torn apart because of arbitrary rules regarding homeland
the kneeling who face violence because of their love for God, YHWH, Allah, Buddha, Shiva, ...
the proud who won't let others impose their bigotries on them
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
the heros who take care of us behind our backs
the friends that know all will benefit from roads, sanitation, health, protection, education
the families who reach out and adopt and care for all children, not just those that look like them
the older sibling, real or implied, who has our backs
the comadre and compadre who listen to our problems without judging us
the teacher who gives of their own time to care for that special child
the mother and father, sister and brother, who just want you to be happy
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
the custodians at the church, homeless shelter, and hospital
the teachers who want the most for your child
the person at the grocery line who lets you cut in front of them
the staff at the store and restaurant that share the bathroom even if you didn't or can't buy anything
the ranger who tends to our land so that future generations can marvel at Creation
the homeowner who sees you lost, gives you water, and guides you home
the friend who gives you a ride, cares for a prisoner, plants flowers on a trail
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
the police and judiciary that understand that true safety starts in trust
the people who unite us as a human family, rather than divide us like spoils of war
the artists, writers, and musicians who inspire us to love and compassion
the fire crew that calms the fearful neighborhood
the military who put their lives on the line for our protection and not for their glory
the unknown missionary who lies in a shallow grave for the civil rights of brothers and sisters
the good Samaritan whose name we never knew, or whose face we've already forgotten
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
the ones who care for the Children of God
ignoring false idols
ignoring their own egos
ignoring the sense of their own righteousness
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
May you find examples of the beatitudes in your own life and live out the meaning of God's blessings. I invite you to share them with me, for in sharing your views of blessing, you bless me with your insight and love.