NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR JANUARY 31, 2014
This past week, we here in Birmingham and across the south discovered an Epiphany of what happens when we are unprepared for a sudden icy-snow storm that had many like me iced in their homes and others such as many of our Covenant family members stranded on roads or at “warming centers” unable to get home. One of the local weathermen posted an apology for getting the forecast so wrong. The intersection of the first three streets in my subdivision became parking lots. Several of the cars were sideswiped by folks trying to do the impossible … get through that icy area. Had I been an eyewitness it would have made me shout at them “You need to cut it out!”
“You need to cut it out!” That seems like a most appropriate exclamation from God to us on destructive, hurtful attitudes, reactions and behaviors that so many of us, … (actually, all of us), as we keep recycling those things in our lives and preventing God’s best for our lives.
In that famous passage from the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we find what is called “The Beatitudes.” The Epiphany they offer us is screaming “You Need To Cut It Out!”
Owen Stepp in “Unlikely Blessings” offers this insight on the key to the Beatitudes. He says:
The idea of being poor in spirit is the key to all that is to follow in the Beatitudes. I like the note in the Life Application Bible: “You cannot mourn without appreciating how insufficient you are to handle life in your own strength. You cannot be meek unless you know you have needed gentleness yourself. You cannot hunger and thirst for righteousness if you proudly think of yourself as already righteous. You cannot be merciful without recognizing your own need for mercy. You cannot be pure in heart if your heart is full of pride. You cannot be a peacemaker if you believe that you are always right. You cannot identify with Christ in the face of negative reactions from others without dying to yourself and renouncing your own rights.”
All of these beatitudes are rooted in humility, being poor in spirit. And being poor in spirit means recognizing that we are unable to often make the changes needed in our lives without God’s help and guidance. Hearing from God that “You need to cut it out!” are not words of condemnation because God is mad at us. No! Just the opposite! They are words of conviction offered as an Epiphany from a loving God that we may turn to and find help needed in Christ.
Join us in worship at 10 am this Sunday morning at Covenant. We will look for even more of an epiphany in hearing God say as the title of the sermon puts it, “You need to Cut It Out!” The sermon is based on Micah 6:1 & 8 and Matthew 5:1-12.