Week of: February 17, 2019
Scripture: Luke 6:17-26
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven.
(Luke 6:23a, NRSV)
This Sunday's Gospel text contains a shortened version of the Beatitudes, some of the most beloved and oft-quoted verses of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Generally associated with funerals and memorial services, these statements put forth an example of faithful living, and grant assurance to Christ's followers.
Unique to Luke's Gospel, the four statements of hope are followed by four warnings, which mirror the blessings. The fourth statement on enduring the rejection and insults of others seems especially poignant for those of us who occasionally encounter difficult people in the church.
While the Beatitudes are counted among the most popular portions of Scripture, they also seem to be one of the most difficult for which to select corresponding music in worship. A quick search on Hymnary.org produces many obscure results. However, one well-known song from our modern-day repertoire rightly deserves consideration.
This song, "Blest Are They," is a gift to us from David Haas, a prolific composer of post-Vatican II liturgical music. His hymn sets the individual blessings in Matthew's version of the Beatitudes as verses, then ties them all together with the refrain, "Rejoice and be glad! Yours is the Kingdom of God!"
During those moments when it is easy for us to become discouraged in our work, let us rejoice in the fact that our God is faithful, and that we are blessed with an eternal promise.
God of blessings, grant us laughter when we feel poor in spirit and are hungry for love. Comfort us when we weep for our hurting world and when we experience that hurt first-hand through the actions of others. Help us to rejoice in the knowledge that the Kingdom is ours, and that we will be filled with all goodness and joy. Amen.
Justin L. Addington
Director of Music & Worship
St. John's United Methodist Church
Rock Hill, SC
Photo: Kaitlyn Wright and Taylor Edwards dance during the Youth Talent Show at Music & Worship Arts Week 2018. (Fellowship photo by Daniel Craig.)