So, each Sunday for awhile, I'm intending on putting one of my past sermons on my blog for whoever's interested in reading it. To make this feasible, as well as emotionally doable, I'm not going to try and edit or change them in any significant way. I may or may not agree now with everything I wrote then, but I'm going to leave them alone and let them speak for themselves!
In looking through my list, I've decided that I'm going to start with a sermon series I preached in 1994 on the Beatitudes, while I was pastoring in Highlands, NC. I am drawn to this in part because for me, the teachings of Jesus, such as we find in the Beatitudes and the larger Sermon on the Mount in which they are contained (Matthew chapters 5-7), are at the heart of the Christian faith.
And in the case of this first sermon, dealing with the first Beatitude--"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"--I can't help but of the newly elected Roman Catholic leader, Pope Francis. In his recent statements and interviews, he seems to embody the humility and meekness that is at the heart of being 'poor in spirit'.
So I would like to dedicate this first sermon on my blog to Pope Francis. May he have a long and successful Papacy!
September 25, 1994; Rev. Carl W. Lindquist
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 5:1-3)
When Mary Beth and I traveled to the Holy Land 18 months ago, one of the most beautiful places we visited was a mountainside high above the coastline of the Sea of Galilee, near the ancient village of Capernaum. From this vantage point we could see the entire lake and the surrounding countryside, with its bright, contrasting hues of blue, brown and green. It was on that very site, called the Mount of Beatitudes and now consecrated by the presence of a most lovely chapel, that Jesus is believed to have delivered his most famous teaching, what we call the Sermon on the Mount.
It is of course no accident that Jesus gave this ethical teaching where he did, on the mountain. For from the perspective of our Resurrection faith, we can see the similarities between Moses and Jesus. Moses, the greatest of all the prophets of Israel, received God’s Law on the mountain of Sinai and brought it down for the people to hear and obey. Now Jesus, the new Moses, who was the fulfillment of the covenant of Israel, was giving a new law for a new covenant and a new Kingdom.