Going through the mail the other day, I found a check for $905.45.
Apparently, some overfed algorithm inferred that a retired couple of former Church workers could use extra cash.
It was a loan, not a gift, but preapproved — all we had to do was agree to the annual percentage rate of 94.87%.
In another envelope, there was a paper prayer rug with a picture of Jesus who looked like a Hindu swami with a thistle-woven skull cap.
Five-digit monetary blessings were promised. Just pray our need over it and return it, along with a donation. As it says in Proverbs, “Those who listen to instructions will prosper.”
At church, we heard Matthew’s version of Jesus preaching the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount — the one where he promised blessings for the poor, the meek, the suffering of our world.
Later, I turned to the news. There was an update of a court case involving a monument of the Ten Commandments, and politicians extoling us a Christian nation.
For some reason, my mind took all these as synchronous, as interrelated, not just random events.
I’m a fan of the Ten Commandments and I do believe that our claimed faith should affect everything, including our politics.
However, if we must keep reminding everyone that we are Christian, then perhaps our actions are not sufficiently revealing that fact.
And while the Ten Commandments are a solid foundation, and law a necessary structure built on them, it is still legal to prey on the poor and the desperate.
I wondered what it would be like if we put a little more emphasis on the Beatitudes, not as something carved in stone, but something etched in our hearts.
I know that would be a big leap. Jesus seems to be talking to the have-nots, oppressed, the victims of fate and society.
He is talking about humble recipients of mercy, not proud providers of justice.
He is talking about rewards delayed, or at least underplayed by today’s standards.
This is not who we are, not who we wish to be. Yet, according to the Preacher, it is the weak, the needy, the mistreated who will be most blessed.
Maybe try reading the Beatitudes in the first person. “Blessed am I when I’m merciful ... meek ... poor in spirit ... pure of heart.”
We might find that, here in our pain, our lostness, and our ultimate dependence, we are most Christian, most loving and most blessed.