Speaker: Sandy Souder, February 28, 2016

Good Morning Beloved!

Since we are concluding the discussion of the Beatitudes, I thought I’d share some suggested, more modern ones followed by affirmations for each to aid our quest for healing. Maybe some will ring a bell for you:

Blessed are the absent-minded, for they are truly distracted by Spirit.

Affirmation: My mind is present but otherwise engaged. It will be with you shortly.

Blessed are the confused, for they shall eventually find clarity.

Affirmation: If I can’t remember where I put it, I probably didn’t really need it anyway.

Blessed are those averse to Facebook, Twitter and such social media, for they are free to be left alone.

Affirmation: I am blessed with all the time that others spend on Social Media.

Blessed are the opinionated, for they will occasionally be right.

We affirm that God grants me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.

And remember – not all who are wandering are lost.

Beatitudes Part 3

Well, we finally get back to the Beatitudes. If you will recall, we started out back in July with the first installment of our study of these Blessings found in Matthew and some are also found in Luke.

We were delayed by wonderful events as we had visitors speaking and singing at our Services that threw the schedule off but what Blessings they were!

So, back to conclude the discussion.

If you recall, these eight Blessings were shared during the Sermon on the Mount, and are proverb-like proclamations, precise, and full of meaning. At this time in history and in the Near East, people learned and believed wealth, happiness, and success were all signs of God’s favor. People who were poor, sick, or failing in any way were clearly being punished by God.

Then along comes Jesus, offering His spiritual congratulations to the very people who were being judged and condemned by the religious authorities of the time. He is telling those who have been most thoroughly excluded from religious acceptance that they are, in fact, God’s beloved. What an energy of hope and new possibility His words must have carried to the sick and needy who thronged to hear Him!

Jesus is explaining that certain groups of people are especially connected with their spiritual potential.

This is one of many times in the course of His ministry when we learn that Jesus leaves the crowds behind and goes up a mountain. He strengthens and centers Himself by ascending to His higher consciousness from which He can later descend to teach, heal and minister to the crowd.

Matthew’s setting of Jesus “Up into the mountains” reminds us to lift our thoughts to higher, more spiritual realms. Metaphysically, we go to higher perspectives or thoughts when we see mountains mentioned in the Bible text, just as we do when we see mention of Jesus looking up toward heaven in blessing and prayer, He’s connecting to His Higher Self.

The Beatitudes present a new set of Christ-like ideals that focus on a spirit of love and humility different in orientation than the usual force and demand of Tradition. They echo the highest ideals of the teachings of Jesus on mercy, spirituality, and compassion. These were and ARE the basic teachings of Jesus.

We see similar verses in the traditional writings of Buddhism, in the Qur’an, the teachings of the Baha’i, for example, and even in the Book of Mormon, proving once again that we are all one in Spirit; that ALL teachings from the Masters are of love.

Each Beatitude consists of two phrases: the condition and the result. In almost every case the condition is from familiar Old Testament context, but Jesus teaches a new interpretation. As He said in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” He is making a statement of how the spirit of the law should be followed.

The Beatitudes initiate one of the main themes of Matthew’s Gospel; that the Kingdom so long awaited in the Old Testament is the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus proclaimed that God’s kingdom was at hand.

And we now know that that Kingdom can be found here on earth, within and without each and every one of us. It is ‘at hand,’ because it is us.

The Greek word translated as “blessed” means “spiritual well-being and prosperity.” When we bless someone or something, we are asking that they or it be increased, be prospered, be one with all.

Of the eight Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:3–12, we have discussed these six:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. (5:3)

Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted. (5:4)

Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth. (5:5)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. (5:6)

Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy. (5:7)

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God. (5:8)

Do you remember what they mean? What they are about? If not, go to the website and check out the messages. They are in the archives.

Today we look at the last two:

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God. (5:9)

And –

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And this continues with Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. (5:10-11)

So let’s look at these last two…

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.

We are all children of God—creative beings made in the image and likeness of our divine Source. This is the truth of who we are, and it remains true whether or not we recognize, remember, or express it in our lives.

Our “likeness” to God does not mean a physical being like we are, with arms and legs and internal organs. “God,” as Jesus states clearly to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:24, “is Spirit.” It must follow, therefore, that we are also Spirit. Our true spiritual identity, the creative energy of God moving in and through us, is what the writers of Hebrew scripture called “the Lord of our Being” and what Jesus called “the Christ.”

Our personal challenge as spiritual beings who have assumed human form is to remove all obstacles so our true Divine nature can express fully and completely through us in these human lifetimes.

What are the obstacles? They are our collective error thoughts—ideas of lack, limitation, and separation from the Divine that we have chosen to believe. Our belief in these negative ideas allows them to become the dominant reality in the manifest world. We create the kingdom of heaven by literally “changing our minds,” that’s what repent means-—we decide to “cancel our subscription” to negative thoughts, to “delete the files” of limiting ideas we have accumulated in consciousness, and to allow the indwelling Divine Presence to fill our hearts and minds with ideas of love, abundance, wholeness, and infinite possibility.

And how do we do this cleansing of negativity? Prayer. Becoming peaceful, serene.

It is from the serenity of our being that we are able to get past the negativity of our lives and our surroundings. “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you.”

As you connect with that peace within, you become a peacemaker. Just your ‘being’ helps. Remember: “Peace begins with me.”

It is through THAT peace that we are peacemakers, praying for conflict resolution.

This Beatitude, then, does not tell us we must become peacemakers in order to be children of God. We already are children of God. And as we know that and feel its power in the heart of our being; people and conditions around us will become more peaceful, more energized in love, simply because of our presence. And in that new energy, people will see us—and themselves—as the children of God we are.

You ARE peacemakers. You are Blessed.

The last Beatitude:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

This Beatitude has been wrongly seen as promising a reward after death for pain and persecution suffered in life. It has even been used through the centuries as a kind of spiritual mind control through which people have been encouraged to accept, without question, conditions of poverty and oppression in this lifetime by quoting this promise of eternal happiness in heaven. That is not what Jesus is saying. The kingdom of heaven is at hand. It is within us. He clearly meant us to experience the kingdom of heaven in these bodies, in these lifetimes.

Jesus is trying to explain that those who resist error thinking, who hold fast to truth in a nonresistant, nonjudgmental way, are already experiencing the kingdom. From our limited human perspective, they must be suffering and in pain. In fact, they have reached and are experiencing a level of unconditional love that can in no way be threatened by the things and ideas of this world.

But let’s look at what is causing “suffering”…isn’t it our thoughts about the situation? So what this Beatitude is telling us is to look at our thoughts. Look at what we are holding onto that is blocking our growth, our connection. This is the cause of our suffering. WE are the cause of our suffering. We are persecuting ourselves!

Our thoughts create our world.

When we are truly connected to the Presence of God within us, nothing can cause us to suffer. It may seem that the world is trying to persecute us for our righteousness—our spiritual beliefs and connections—but the world does not have that power. If we choose to not be part of the judgments of the world, then those judgments have no power over us.

In the story ‘The City of Joy,’ a French priest is drawn to Calcutta to minister to the poorest of the poor—people without homes or possessions who, in his well-intentioned judgment, he felt could truly be said to be persecuted. What he found was that theirs was, indeed, the kingdom of heaven; they were abler to extend love and compassion to him than he was to them. Conditions in the material world could not shake the peace and joy they felt in knowing their spiritual worth.

Who was the persecuted one there?

The Beatitudes are often looked at as the Commandments of the Christian Bible. Just as the Hebrew Bible’s Ten Commandments gave the Israelites laws to guide them on how to get along as they traveled the length of time needed to grow spiritually, 40 years in the desert, these Beatitudes are guides to know and understand the Kingdom of Heaven.

They are essentially Jesus’ teachings in a nutshell, a new set of ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and extortion. They echo the highest ideals of Jesus’ teachings on spirituality and compassion.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

By sandwiching six promises in between two assurances, that such people have the Kingdom of Heaven, is it possible that Jesus means to tell us that these six promises are blessings of the Kingdom? In other words, these six things are what you can count on when you are a part of Divine’s Kingdom. This is what the Kingdom brings: comfort, earth ownership, satisfaction, righteousness, mercy, a vision of God, and the awesome title, child of God. You don’t have to pick and choose among these promises. They all belong to the Kingdom. Six promises sandwiched in between. “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The spiritual path to which we are called is not an easy one, nor are we likely to win many popularity contests as a result of the work that is ours to do.

The Kingdom to which Jesus and many Masters call us is “not of this ‘material’ world’ and it will make no sense to those who are not able to fully understand its spiritual power. What we experience as spiritual growth and awareness will seem like sheer foolishness to others. We can’t expect to always be understood, even by people to whom we feel closest, and we certainly can’t base our spiritual choices on the prevailing opinions of friends or family. Again and again as His ministry unfolds, Jesus warns his disciples that following a path of spiritual awareness and enlightenment may mean turning away from friends, family, and “public opinion.”

In other words, we will find the rewards of our spiritual choices in ourselves, not in the support or approval of others.

Thankfully, we have that support here at Unity of Rehoboth Beach. Let’s take that smile of acceptance into meditation…