Two thousand years ago–give or take–Jesus preached one of the most quoted, debated and re-preached sermons. The famous, or infamous, Sermon on the Mount, includes such memorable thoughts as “Blessed are the meek, the poor, the persecuted,” “Love your enemy,” “Be salt and light,” “Turn the other cheek,” and “Go the second mile.”
This powerful sermon has been used and abused throughout history to support all kinds of agendas. It has been memed and parodied. Thank you Monty Python for “Blessed are the cheese makers,” that echoes every time I hear the beatitudes. And it has made fine fodder for parental lectures. There’s a reason the lectionary invites preachers to take a month or so to work our way through it. It’s dense, demanding, and difficult.
This week, we get to the “You have heard it said,” portion of the sermon. Jesus invites us not to take the law just at face value, but dig deeper to what is compassionate, right and just. He invites his hearers, then and now to struggle with our own intentions, our own desires for vengeance, our own need for heart and soul work.
Jesus sermon on the mount challenges me not just to look at the way I live and love. His sermon invites me to consider what it means to preach. The sermon on the mount, in its entirety, is challenging, yet comforting, provoking and political, near impossible to live out, yet accessible and inspirational. It challenges the powers that be while empowering the seemingly powerless. It speaks to a specific, contextually bound audience. And it speaks to hearers today. This Sunday, lets listen and wrestle together, with part three of Jesus’ sermon to generations of disciples.
The snow is finally starting…be warm, be safe, be loved.
PS. For Monty Python’s, Life of Brian Fans…the Blessed are the Cheesemakers clip.