Before the shelter in place orders, we were beginning a new sermon series looking at Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5-7, commonly called the ‘sermon on the mount.’ It is longest collection of straight teaching by Jesus to his disciples. Jesus goes into great detail with many examples of how his followers should live in this world. Jesus describes two contrasting approaches to an ethical question and then proposes a third way for his disciples to live into God’s kingdom. Jesus teaches his followers how to avoid getting caught in the binaries of his day and how to join God’s work of justice and hope and generosity and forgiveness in the world.
The ‘sermon on the mount’ begins with the beatitudes, a list of Jesus’ sayings that begin with ‘Blessed are…’ Two of the beatitudes that we covered while we were still meeting in person were -
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5.4,6)
Father Gregory Boyle says that ‘blessed’ in the beatitudes means ‘You are in the right place if…’ This translation speaks to the importance of location and relationship in how we understand the beatitudes. We are in the right place, blessed, when we come close to those who are mourning and hurting. If we wonder where God is in the midst of COVID 19, this beatitude suggests that God is with those who are hurting and mourning, comforting them. My Christian ethics professor in Seminary Glenn Stassen believes that verse 6 should be translated “Joyful are those that hunger and thirst for restorative justice, for they will be filled.” Restorative justice is a process of healing, repair, and restoration following harm, abuse or injustice. We are in the correct place as followers of Jesus when we are actively seeking healing of relationships, repair of broken social systems, and restoration of fractured communities. During this unique season, the beatitudes and the ‘sermon on the mount’ give us important direction in how to continue in the ways of Jesus. May we come close to those who are mourning and hurt, and actively seek the healing of relationships and systems around us.
Check out our new website – yvpres.org. Great place to find these letters, request prayer, and donate online if you desire.
Please continue to call/text/send cards to three different members of our community to check in on each other and ask to pray with each other. Take a risk and pray for each other over the phone.
If you have an urgent prayer request – please call Paula Ash (925) 435 – 2859 to start the prayer chain.
Join the Zoom call this Sunday for our worship gathering. Zoom is a digital platform that facilitates online group meetings. You will find an invitation to the Zoom call in your email. You can use your smartphone or computer to join. If you haven’t gotten an invitation, please call or email me. Please bring juice and bread to the call so that we can all share Communion together. (If you are having trouble with Zoom – please reach out to Singeh Saliki to help (405) 714 – 3641.)
Even as we don’t see each other in person, our church will continue to have our ongoing expenses. If you are able, please mail in your offering to YVPC, 2140 Minert Rd., Concord, Ca, 94518. Thanks. (You can also give your offering through the website yvpres.org if that is easier for you.)
Connecting with God
Tom Prinz is writing a series of articles using his years of counseling wisdom to help us grow through the pandemic rather than just survive. If you would like to receive further installments of these articles – please contact Tom at (805) 807 – 3727 and he would be overjoyed to send them to you.
Gratitude journal – During a season of uncertainty and hardship, giving thanks is a powerful spiritual practice. Consider writing down ten things each day you thankful to God for.
Use the ‘Common Prayer – A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals’ by Shane Claiborne for daily prayer and to guide our weekly worship times. You can find it online at commonprayer.net or call me and we will get one delivered to you.
Loving our neighbors
If you are sheltering in place, light a candle in your home. Each time you see the candle pray for essential workers at this time at hospitals, grocery stores, post office, gas stations etc.
Washing hands, practicing social distancing, and if able, only leaving our homes for essential needs to help protect the most vulnerable members of our community.
Pastor Enicia Montalvo shared during our Sunday service that many of the families in their church are out of work and need help. Could we adopt one of these families to help together beyond our food closet assistance?
Deacon’s Food Closet – We have an abundance of canned food at the church building. Please let me know if you or a neighbor needs food and we can drop it on their doorstep.
Grace and Peace,
(please don’t hesitate to call me with any questions, concerns, or ideas of ways we can stay connected and support each other (510) 856 – 7434)