MONDAY (2/22/21)

This is from David Phillips. I am from Plymouth originally and work at
Notre Dame. If you know me at church, it is probably as the tall guy
chasing after two little boys. I am in the home group that meets at the
Encks’ house near Keller Park (Near Northwest) during normal times.
Our home group has spent most of the last year studying the Sermon
on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, so we are going to lead the devotionals for
this part.

  • For today, first take some time to read through Matthew 5:1-26

This start of the Sermon on the Mount surprises me. Jesus has been
healing people and calling disciples, gathering a crowd, but we haven’t
heard much from Jesus directly yet. Then, he starts off with these
unusual statements. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” “blessed are
those who mourn,” and so on. I’ve heard it summarized as “lucky are
the unlucky.” It is just so different from what I am used to and what
I naturally pursue in the world; it is so upside-down. And yet it is the
center of Jesus’s teaching. It is the first thing Jesus shares with this
big crowd. When I read it, I have to force myself to take it at face value,
because it is just so different.

These upside down statements have helped me in the midst of the COVID
pandemic, when the world has been turned upside down. “Blessed are
those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” has been particularly
meaningful to me, a verse that I have said multiple times each day
over the past months. This statement is a promise of eternity to me,
of what is to come: people dying in a pandemic, political division, and
isolation are not the end; God and good will eventually win. But what
has been most important to me is that Jesus’s words are also true now.
Life is hard right now, but that death and mourning over it is somehow
creating space for resurrection.

When I mourn now over the daily struggles of working from a windowless
room in my basement, the effects of my own sin, or even very literally
mourn people who are dying, I am learning how to follow the Jesus who
came and conquered by dying.

Reflect on the following question today:

  • What is God trying to do in you in this time of mourning?