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By Rev. Joan Kessler

Matthew 5:1-12

This morning, we continue to journey through the season of Epiphany. And I know that this liturgical time of the year is not figuring highly in your diaries and calendars, but it gives context to the readings we share between January 6 and the first Sunday of Lent. Epiphany is all about revelation, of showing who Jesus was in his early life and beginnings of his ministry and his relationship with God.

Matthew 5 is the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon On the Mount. He begins this long exhortation with words of blessing. Blessed are the poor in the spirit, those who mourn, those who are hungry… for good things shall come to them. Jesus sets up his message by addressing the lowly, those down on their luck and his words would have been countercultural to listeners ever since. How can these folks have anything to look forward to? I discovered this week that my usual translation of Beatitude as Be-Attitude or as an “attitude” one should “be” is actually linguistically incorrect. The word comes from the Latin, Beati, which means “happy”. Jesus begins his teachings with affirmations. The community who would hear these statements of blessing were a group down on their luck. The temple had been destroyed yet again; the early followers of the Way were without their leader Jesus. They scattered out of fear for lives because of their new beliefs. They were all these things. Jesus’ words of blessing were for everyone, they were inclusive, no one was left out.

A topic of conversation I have had more than once this past