When do we know we are blessed? Is it when we have more stuff than someone else? Is it when we have more happy moments than we did last year? Is this all it means to be blessed? A deeper, life-giving answer to this question is one that is centered upon our Gracious God.
It is in the moment when, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we realize we have sinned, that we cannot do it without our God and in that moment, receive God’s faithful promise of forgiveness and mercy. It is in this holy moment that we realize we’re blessed. Being held in God’s eternal embrace, receiving God’s forgiveness and grace and mercy, this is from where all blessings flow.
In the book of Matthew, it all begins with the Beatitudes. Jesus begins these beloved verses by saying, “Blessed are…”, and the blessings pour forth. In our day and age, we tend to think of blessings as kindly affirmations like, “bless your heart.” But as Professor David Rhoads shares, “in ancient times, blessings were considered to be powerful words which were actions – they could make happen what was said. In these blessings, Jesus empowers people to be humble in spirit, gentle, merciful, hungering for justice, pure of mind and makers of peace.” (Matt. 5:1-12)
Just as our Lord did then, so our Lord does now. Our Lord draws us to himself and through the power of the Holy Spirit, God pours his grace and mercy upon us, and we are blessed. We are blessed and empowered to be God’s people in the world today showing forth humility, gentleness, mercy, and so much more.
God’s beloved child, know you are blessed as you reside in God’s outpoured mercy and grace.
Written by Pastor Michelle Oetken
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.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Pastor Michelle answered God’s call to serve at Sheridan in 2014 and shepherds our ministries of Confirmation, Youth and Young Adults. Her first 15 years of ministry were spent as solo Pastor in McCool Junction and Wausa, NE. In addition to spending time in the parish, she has also served on the synod boards of NLOM and Global Ministry. Michelle is married to Rich and they have two beautiful children, Jonathon and Krista. In her spare time, she enjoys growing in her knowledge of American Sign Language, playing piano and crafting.