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4 Epiphany - Matthew 5:1-12

Bible scholars contend that Matthew presents Jesus in the image of Moses, but I think he looks like Aladdin.

He climbs the mountain and launches into a sermon that is really a magic carpet ride.

I can show you the world

Shining, shimmering, splendid,

Tell me, blessed, now when did

You last let your heart decide?

I can open your eyes

Take you wonder by wonder

Over, sideways and under

On a heaven's kingdom ride

A whole new world

A new fantastic point of view...

from way up here

it's crystal clear

that now I'm in a whole new world with you.

Jesus shows us God's law, and one another, from a stunningly different perspective.

He is giving us the view from heaven.

Blessed are the ones who do not appear to be blessed at all.

Your enemy is your neighbor, and the person who persecutes you needs your prayers.

For the next three chapters, Jesus will spin heads showing us a whole new world, a dazzling

place we never knew.

And that's because it wasn't there until he mentioned it.

Those Bible scholars point to the fact that in Matthew's gospel, the teachings of Jesus are

arranged into five long sections, intentionally matching Torah, the five books of Moses.

Today's gospel is the opening of the first section.

So these announcements of blessing are Genesis chapter one.

Jesus, from his position of authority seated on the mountain, is creating a whole new world.

The Beatitudes are not observations.

He is not looking at the downtrodden, cursed, and exploited and noticing something.

He is not giving us incentives or how-tos for securing blessing, some checklist of

spiritual goals, as if God will be happier with you if you just grieve or starve more.

These words are the opening of the new Torah.

In the original version, God created a whole new world by speaking it into being.

Let there be light...and there was light.

Let there be...let the waters...let the dry land...and it was so, and it was good.

Jesus, a.k.a. Emmanuel, God with us, is doing it again.

He is speaking a new reality into being.

He is not saying things because they are true.

Things are true because he is saying them.

This whole new world, which Jesus names the kingdom of heaven, is a jarring change for those of us on the ground in this tired old world infatuated with violence, power, and prestige.

The blessings do not at all align with our conventional wisdom and the society that reinforces it.

We can quickly dismiss his magic carpet ride as pie in the sky, wishful thinking.

But what if the view from up high