Blessings or Woes
This saying was found on a greeting card to a graduating senior — "Some days you're a pigeon. Some days you're a statue."
Twelve ministers were on a plane going to a conference in Seattle. When they came into a large storm, they told the flight attendants to tell the pilot that everything would be okay because 12 ministers were on board.
Later, one flight attendant returned from the cockpit. "What did the pilot say?" one preacher asked playfully.
"He said he was glad to have 12 ministers aboard, but he would rather have four good engines."
Ah yes, blessings or woes. Sometimes we believe we should be receiving "heaping helpings" of blessings, but instead it seems like we get a "boat load" of woes. How is it that you handle each? Do you feel like you are seeing "boat loads" of woes anchored at the dock, or do you feel like you most often hold out a giant bowl to receive your "heaping helping" of blessings? Maybe, for you it is a combination of the two.
In our gospel lesson this week from Luke 6, we are engaged with an audience that varies in background or religious experience; a large and varied crowd of listeners gathered to seek healing from Jesus' hands and to hear truth from Jesus' preaching. First, there are those specially chosen companions of Jesus known as the apostles. Second, there is a larger group who have declared themselves disciples and have already committed themselves to Jesus and his witness. Third, there is a portion of the crowd that is as yet uncommitted to Jesus in any way. Some scholars have suggested that the pointedness of the "woes" in Luke's beatitudes section indicates that many of these listeners may have been actively hostile toward Jesus and his message. These people all had the experience of seeing and hearing from the one who says, "The kingdom of God is near." As well, they may be needing Jesus to speak to them or heal them with many blessings. Jesus does that. However, he also speaks of the "woes" that might come to those who do not see the need for God's blessings to others.
Living in the preferences and expectations of God is not for the faint of heart. There is this fine line we walk with expecting blessings upon ourselves at the neglect of those who are denied them by whatever the circumstances. God's vision, God's dreaming was to offer blessing for all. Jesus came to hang out with us to not only offer God's blessing to us, but to bless us to be God's blessing in the world where many suffer from issues that pull them down — physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Let us all "dream on" about the preferences and expectations of God. Let us all offer a "heaping helping" of blessing to all we meet this week!