Luke 6: 20 “Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
In July 2013 I took my youth group to Washington DC for a mission trip. Instead of signing up for one of those prepackaged mission trip experiences we planned our own. We stayed at Mar-Lu-Ridge Summer Camp and they helped us connect with local places in the area to do mission work.
We also worked with Resurrection Graves who talked about her personal experience with homelessness and took us to Franklin Park where we would hand out bags full of things that are useful for people who are homeless (socks, body wipes, pack of Kleenex, maxi pads, toothbrush and tooth paste, band aids, chapstick, comb, mints etc.).
At Franklin Park our youth were split up into pairs and they asked the homeless, who were settling in for the night if they wanted one of these bags. That’s where we encountered a man I will never forget.
Two of our girls handed him a bag and he was so thankful. He then started to talk with them, he told them about his life and how he ended up homeless. Wishing 15 minutes over half of our group were with him listening to him. His stories were not negative and depressing, they were inspiriting and uplifting. Even though he was homeless he looked on the bright side of life. In the end he said “We are all blessed by the best.”
When I think about blessings I think about this man and his outlook on life, I think about the time he spent on the streets, cold, afraid and alone but knowing that he is still blessed by God. I think about my life and how I believe I have difficulties but in no way do they compare to what so many other people have and continue to experience.
Even though you are having a hard time in some areas of your life you are blessed. I am reminded by this from a beautiful contemporary version of the beatitudes my friend and colleague Katherine Rohloff wrote this week. Read these words and think about them and the blessings you have in your life.
“Blessed are you when you come to church looking like a mess, hoping for gas money, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you when you’re feeding your kids unhealthy food because it’s also the cheapest and what you can afford, for you will be filled. Blessed are you when your throat closes up when you try to pray because your grief is overwhelming, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account who you welcome in the name of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets who welcomed the unwelcome before you. But woe to you who have much and give little, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you whose needs are filled and yet ignore the needs of others, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh in the face of suffering, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all say how “nice” and “respectable” you are, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
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