All Saints A: Preaching a Beatitudes Inversion

Matthew 5:1-12 Dear Partner in Preaching, There is a scene in Schindler’s List that came back to me while reading the Beatitudes. Amon Goeth, played by Ralph Fiennes, is the commandant of a German death camp. Goeth is, in brief, a violent sociopath, prone to kill the Jewish prisoners at his camp indiscriminately. And he believes that his ability to kill is the very essence of power. Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, is a consummate showman and has somehow worked his way into Amon Goeth’s good graces. One evening, Schindler challenges Goeth’s beliefs about power. The ability to kill isn’t power; the ability to have mercy is...

Epiphany 4 A – Recognizing Blessing

Matthew 5:1-12 Dear Partner in Preaching, Matthew tells the story a little differently. You probably know that just as well as I do. Yet when I read the “Sermon the Mount” I sometimes blend Matthew’s account and Luke’s together, blurring some of the distinctiveness. In Luke, for instance, Jesus offers his sermon not on a mountain but a “level plain.” And in Luke Jesus preaches to “a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people” (Lk. 6:17). But in Matthew Jesus has just twelve disciples – the twelve we often call them – representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The crowds,...