When I was a little girl, I heard about the Beatitudes often in my house. My father, a Methodist pastor in the Baltimore area, loved to quote these words of Jesus to me… Often!
Since I was hearing the word and not seeing the word, my child-mind heard BE-Attitude – two words that referred to Jesus’ list of little nuggets to live by in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-12.
Upon reviewing the Beatitudes, Jesus covered a lot of areas. Think of Jesus’ words as a sort of blueprint for Being a Christian. Paraphrased in accordance to my child’s mind when I first heard these words, I know that:
1. Blessed are those who search for God in their heart, mind and spirit; their reward is Heaven.
2. Blessed are those who are sad from great loss; their reward is comfort.
3. Blessed are the humble and gentle ones; their reward is Earth.
4. Blessed are the hungry and thirsty; their reward is food and water.
5. Blessed are the kind; their reward is kindness.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart like Jesus; their reward is to see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers; their reward is to become a son (or daughter) of God.
8. Blessed are those who are hurt while seeking to do right; their reward is Heaven.
Now as an adult, I realize that there is so much more meaning to Jesus’ words that my child’s brain could understand Way Back in the 60s and 70s, but they did what my father wanted; they taught me HOW to be a follower of Jesus:
• Be faithful in heart, mind and spirit
• Do the right thing
• Offer comfort to all
• Be humble, gentle and kind
• Help others
• Be like Jesus
• Make peace
And as simplistic as this interpretation was/is, I still try to follow these words, even in a world that seems to have forgotten…
Over the 4th of July week, my hubby and I went camping in Lancaster. Sadly for my waistline, we typically go out to various Amish/Mennonite restaurants to experience good, home-cooking like momma used to make. Only this time, conversation as to where to go to eat was mixed with which establishment was safe. Admittedly, we walked in and then out of a few places because I did not see evidence of social-distancing or the use of facemasks.
On one morning, Chris and I went to Katie’s Diner, a lovely restaurant that all the locals love to visit. The diner sits in the middle of a large parking lot with the right-side parking next to a beautifully landscaped park/playground. Great food; great view! The owners acquired a HUGE tent that ran the entire length Katie’s and moved all their tables and chairs outside. It was the perfect strategy! They were even able to add extra tables and chairs, so they could seat more people outside than could inside! I felt myself actually relaxing! Chris and I ate a fantabulous meal while watching children play in the park… (I highly recommend the cheeseburger soup! WOW!)
We were so moved by the experience that we struck up a conversation with our waitress, Ruthie, about the great job she and her co-workers were doing. At some point during our back and forth chatting, Ruthie said something that struck me to the core: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.”
I had found an addition to my child’s BE-Attitude list: Be flexible. Ruthie is 100% correct! We live in a New World – one in which we must flex our views, our habits, our basic interactions in order to succeed. Preschool teachers have Always been flexible – no choice! Success is flexibility!
Now, I see that being a disciple of Jesus also requires flexibility. Social distancing can be done without isolation – flex and find the way. Wearing facemasks are uncomfortable, but at least there are different styles – flex and find the way. Washing hands and high-touch areas frequently - flex and find the way. Seeing people for who they are, not the color of their skin - flex and find the way. Honoring true heroes in history - flex and find the way. Some of these are easier than others, but as Ruthie indicated – flexing our habits and views is not bending them into something different; it is just part of BEing followers of Jesus.