After Jesus had gone up to the mountain to pray, and after he had spent the night in prayer to God, Jesus called his disciples. And after that long night of prayer, seeking the mind and the heart of Creator, Jesus chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles:

Simon, whom he named Peter,
And his brother Andrew,
And James, and John, and Philip.

There was Bartholomew,
and Matthew, and Thomas,
and James son of Alphaeus,
and Simon, who was called the Zealot,
and Judas son of James, and
Judas Iscariot,
who wasn’t always,
but eventually became
a traitor.

And that’s when Jesus
came down with them and
stood on a level place,
with a great crowd of his
disciples and a great
multitude of people from all Judea,
Jerusalem, and the coast of
Tyre and Sidon.

They had come to hear him,
and to be healed of their diseases,
and those who were troubled
with unclean spirits
were cured.

And all in the crowd,
If you’ll remember,
Were trying to touch him,
For power came out from him,
And healed them all.
Every last one.

You can imagine the scene
as Jesus came down from the
mountain, perhaps radiant,
though the scriptures don’t say,
as he would be on the day
of the transfiguration.

You can imagine the scene
As Jesus came down from the
Mountain, having called the
Having chosen his inner circle,
His trusted council,
Knowing he could not go it alone.

You can imagine the scene
As Jesus came down from
The mountain, his friends in tow,
And how, as he walked down from
the mountain, Jesus looked compassionately
upon them, how he picked out
some familiar faces in the crowd,
those who had come to know him
after following him through
the wilderness day in and day out,
seeking to be healed,
to be reconciled, one with another
to be made whole.

The world that they had known
was under siege.
the world that they had known
was corrupt and under occupation.
the world that they had known,
that had once made sense to them,
had been made victim of
the invading empire,
its thirst for consumption,
the colonising force,
stripping people of their land,
their work, community, dignity, and justice,
hording capital and trampling
the human spirit
for the sake of imperial expansion,
fuelling a growing class war,
as they transformed the economy
from one that had been
local and relational, recognising
all creation as God’s good gift,
to one built on
the backs of the poor, that is,
an economy of commodity
and debt, and the
increasing stratification
of rich and poor, in and out,
Blessed, and not.

Those who were on the inside,
Those with access to power,
Those with riches and influence,
With access to privilege,
These were the blessed.

Those willing to use their power
to their own advantage,
leaving their neighbours,
and God’s sacred economy behind,
these, under the imperial logic,
were the blessed.

And the rest of us, well,
You can fill in the blanks.

And Jesus is having none of it.
He knows how this whole
Thing will end up,
He’s read the prophets,
And knows the story well.
He knows that those who
single-mindedly proclaim the
benefits of the prevailing order
while sweeping the reality
of pain and suffering, oppression and loss,
under the rug have it all wrong.
Jesus refuses to accept the logic
of empire. Instead, he is indebted
to the poetry of prophets,
the music of creation, and sabbath,
and shalom. A disruptive imagination
that calls the dominant narrative
of What and Who are worthy
of blessing into serious question.

When all around, you taste
and see evidence of destruction,
of land being decimated, of
forests clear-cut, of communities

When all around, you taste
and see evidence of destruction,
of traditional governance
structures replaced
by puppet regimes.

When all around, you taste
And see evidence of destruction,
of the forced exile of individuals
and entire communities given
no choice but to migrate
and flee.

When all around, you taste
and see evidence of destruction,
As water, air, and land, the elements
that had brought forth
the abundance of creation,
eroding like the soil
of small-scale farms
replaced daily replaced
by industrial agriculture.

You can be sure that the
Imperial logic is at play.

But more than that, you can be sure
that it’s time for prophetic poetics
to be unleashed, to re-imagine
a world that has room enough
for all.

And that’s when Jesus walks down
the mountain, standing on a level place,
in the midst of the great crowd,
looking up at his disciples,
catching their watchful eyes,
his own eyes glimmering in
joyful rebellion, saying:

Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who are hungry now,
For you will be filled.

Blessed are you who weep now,
For you will laugh.

Blessed are you when people hate you,
And when they exclude you, revile you,
and cast out your name as evil,
on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice on that day and leap for joy,
For surely your reward is great
In the kingdom of Heaven,
For that is what their ancestors
Did to the prophets.

Despite all you’ve heard, despite all that this world is trying to sell you. Despite, or perhaps, in light of the fact that you don’t have it all, I want you to know that you are blessed, that you are beloved in the here and now.

Despite all you’ve heard, and despite what they say, you do not have to wait until you are full to be blessed. In this kingdom, in this upside-down kingdom, we will make sure that there is enough to go around.

Despite all you’ve heard, and despite what they say, you do not have to wait until your tears dry to know the compassion and love of God. Let it all out. Let them run free. There is much to lament. And we will cry together at the state of this world. And we will cry together at all that we have suffered. And we will weep at the injustices that have led to suffering and destruction and death. And where it’s necessary, we will confess our own involvement. And then, like the prophets of old, we will resist.

Despite all you’ve heard, and despite what they say, we will not wait until everyone agrees with us, to follow in Jesus’ way. Though many do not understand, we have heard God’s call, and we will listen, together, discerning God’s still, small voice. We will listen for that voice, and we will know it is true when it breathes the words that were blown like wind at the beginning: you are my beloved, you were created to be and to embody what is good.

Despite all you’ve heard, and despite what they say, the love of God is not in the fear and exclusion of the stranger, but rather, in embrace. And so, when we’re caught doing that, when we are caught embracing those that society has cast to the side, when we call beloved those that others denigrate as less than human, we will know deeply, intimately, in the flesh, what God’s love feels like in our very bones.

And we could go on. To dwell in the words of woe, the words of woe to those of us, and to those parts of ourselves that feel uncomfortable, that resist the reconciling work of the Jesus who seeks to draw all people, all of creation together with their Creator.

We could go on and dwell in those words of woe. But for tonight, let us set our sights on higher things. Let us set our sights on the mountain tops. Let us set our sights on the crowds who followed Jesus. Let us set our sights on our hearts, and on this group gathered together, this body of Christ, that we might accept, and embody the blessing that has been freely given. So that we — you, me, all of us — might freely give.

So that we all might be blessed.
As we are.
Beloved in the Creator’s eyes.