“Happy are people who are hopeless . . . grieve . . . humble . . . hungry and thirsty for righteousness . . . show mercy . . . have pure hearts . . . make peace . . . ” (Matthew 5.1-11)
The Common English Bible translates the Beatitudes by using the word happy instead of blessed. Susan Hylen, a New Testament Professor, says, “It is difficult to contemplate the brokenness of the world, and even more difficult to know ourselves to be complicit in its injustices . . . However, we can never be happy by ignoring or downplaying the suffering of others. This is the paradox of happiness: it sits face to face with the pain of injustice, sickness, and death. Yet it is still somehow strangely appropriate to use the word “happy.”
I paralleled the Beatitudes with Matthew 13.3-16, the Parable of the Soil and Seeds, where Jesus says, ““Happy are your eyes because they see. Happy are your ears because they hear. I assure you that many prophets and righteous people wanted to see what you see and hear what you hear, but they didn’t.” People were invited to reflect on ways they see and hear what is happening in the world around them. Using different kinds of birdseed, I created a birdseed mandala in the middle of the sanctuary. As people came up to gather seeds, they were asked to scatter them at a place where they usually stand – praying that God gives them the eyes to see and ears to hear – or at a place where they have never stood before – taking a moment to notice what they see and hear.