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Beatitudes Series 3 -12th Sunday After Pentecost - August 20, 2023

Right from the beginning, before I go any further, I’m going to ask yall to do something. Take the red Book of Common Prayer in front of you in the pew and turn to page 855. Just turn to page 855, bookmark it with your bulletin, or set it to the side…just keep it marked or open to page 855. We’ll get to that in just a minute, but for now…we’re going to continue with our last Sunday in our Beatitudes Series. If you’ve been able to be here or listen-in the past couple of Sundays, we hope you’ve found it encouraging, challenging, and helpful.

Last fall Ericka and I bought a used 2012 Jayco Pop-Up Camper. We had saved up for a while and we’ve loved taking it out with the kids. What I have to say about traveling and camping with a Pop-Up is it’s about 90% fun. Which, in my opinion, is still a pretty good percentage. It’s 90% because there is 10% not-so-fun. It’s a little bit of work, you need to organize, maximize functionality of space, be prepared for weather in all forms (thankfully I married a natural organizer)…and of course, there is the “dad moment.” The moment where this dad, during setting-up, or adjusting to some unforeseen variable, loses his temper. So, more times than not, there’s this moment on pretty much every trip where I’m standing in front of my kids saying something like, “Look kids. I’m really sorry about the way I just acted. And I know we tell you not to use those words and you just heard a lot of them come out of my mouth. So, I ask your forgiveness. I love you.” And you know what…they do. They forgive me…and in this beautiful, non-judgmental, grace-filled kind of way. You know there’s something about the way children can forgive…they’re somehow able to do it in a way us grown-ups struggle to do. Maybe that’s one of the things G.K. Chesterton was thinking about when he wrote about God’s constant creativity and generativity and referred to it as God’s eternal appetite of infancy and says, “For we have sinned and grown old and our God is younger than we.”

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

When we’re talking about mercy, we’re talking about forgiveness. That’s how mercy is embodied in our lives, right? And remember who Jesus is talking to here…he’s not talking to the people in positions of power – those who can only imagine mercy as some act of clemency they leniently bestow from their position on high. No, he’s talking to normal, every-day people. Now, we hear that phrase, I think there’s a tendency to assume a “tick for tack” kind of exchange. “I give mercy, so God will be merciful with me” kind of thinking…but that’s not it. As Rowan Willams says, “God is love all the way down.” So, there’s no withholding going-on in the life of God. What Jesus is teaching here is pointing to a deep reality. That it is in the actual giving of mercy that we receive mercy in our own lives. Said another way, when you and I choose forgiveness, something happens in us, in our lives…and that is freedom.