Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

"Beatitudes 316: Blessed Are the Shalom Promoters"

Matthew 5: 9

Ephesians 2: 13-22

Psalm 122

      Now on the other side of Easter, we return this week and next to our study of the beatitudes of

Jesus as recorded in the 5th chapter of Matthew.  We come this morning to the 7th beatitude in

which Jesus claims this: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” 

The first issue to be considered is: what does Jesus mean by “the peacemakers”?  Who exactly are

these “peacemakers.”  What do “peacemakers” look like?  What is the profile of a maker – not

merely a lover or a keeper -- of peace? 

“REMEMBERING THE ONE WE KNOW”                                                               

Text:  Acts 10:34-43

           Luke 24:1-11

 I can’t say that I knew my paternal grandfather, whose first and middle name I bear – Lorenzo

Giacomo; in English: Lawrence James.  My almost three year-old grandson – who we call “LJ” – bears

that name as well; now into a sixth generation in which grandson is named after grandfather.  In so

much as my grandfather Lawrence passed away when I was very young, I didn’t really know him in

the conventional sense.  He left me too early.  Even so, I can and do say that I remember him.  And

through that remembrance, fashioned from a hundred stories which have been carefully handed

down to me from my dad and mom, my Aunt Eleanor, and others – all of whom have gone home to

be with the Lord – I suppose I could say that in the deepest sense, I do know my grandfather. 

"Inside Out and Outside In"

Matthew 21:1-17

      Once upon a time, there was a church which was studying how it could do a better job reaching

out to its surrounding community.  The mission board met several times to discuss how to best

accomplish this.  Since there were many homeless in the downtown area around the church, a

men’s overnight shelter was considered.  After all, the board thought, the massive church building

with its shrinking congregation had more than enough available space; even showers adjacent to a

now dilapidated gymnasium.  Along with the homeless hungry were the hungry with homes.  Were a

free lunch program or food pantry feasible options?  With the spiraling costs of basic health, dental

and eye care, could a free or low cost medical clinic of some type be a possibility?  Or how about a

weekday worship service designed especially for those who might not be comfortable with the

traditional Sunday morning worship experience?  As the church was endowed to the tune of over

sixteen million dollars, funding for any or all of these mission efforts was a non-issue.

"Away From a Manger"

Christmas Play

"Beatitudes 304: Makarios Are the Katharos in Heart"

Matthew 5:8

1 Peter 1: 18-25

Isaiah 1: 16-20

      This morning, we focus our collective attention on what is possibly the most demanding, if

not impossible to live out, of Jesus’ beatitudes:  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see

God.”  How many of us in all good conscience can say we’re pure in heart

      What comes to mind when we hear that word “pure?”  For some reason, I always think of Ivory
soap. In TV commercials, it was called 99.4% “pure;” so pure that it floats.  Now what a bar of soap

that floats has to do with purity, I don’t know.  If we call the Culligan man, we’re assured of buying

a water purification system which will leave water pure of even the tiniest traces of mercury, lead,

copper and benzene.  A skilled gemologist or jeweler looks for gemstones which are pure of imperfections,

and gold which is pure of alloys.  A metallurgist in a high-end steel producing facility aims to generate a ladle

of molten steel which is pure of dirty elements such as phosphorus and sulfur. These physical examples of purity

in our day have their parallels in the age and culture in which Jesus taught.

"Beatitudes 202: Mercy, Mercy Me"

Matthew 5:7

Matthew 18: 23-34

Psalm 69: 13-18

      “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”

      The 5th beatitude under our consideration this morning is the only beatitude which could be cast

into what’s called in literary terms chiasm; that is to say, an A-B B-A structure.  Here’s what that means

in plain English:  “Blessed” (A) “are the merciful (B), “for they (the merciful) (B) “will receive mercy

(A).”  Maybe a simpler way to understand chiasm is this: what goes around comes around.  So the flip

side of this chiastic beatitude is that if one does not give mercy, one will not receive mercy. Buddhism

and Hinduism might call that “karma.” At any rate, since mercy is both the demand and the promise of

this particular beatitude – both its requirement and its reward – we need to understand what Jesus

means when He speaks of “merciful” and “mercy.”  Let’s spend some time there.

      The word “mercy” is translated from the Greek word eleos (eleos)Eleos actually derives its

meaning from a Hebrew word – chesedh – which occurs more than 150 times in the Old Testament. 

Almost every time chesedh shows up, it refers to God’s mercy toward people. 


  Matthew 5:6   Ephesians 3:14-21   Psalm 107:1-9

      The 4th beatitude of Jesus states that “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteous-

ness, for they will be filled,” or in some ancient manuscripts, “satisfied.” So we start:

makarios, happy, favored by God are those who, first, “hunger and thirst…..” 

How are we impacted by the force of “hunger and thirst?” 

"Beatitudes 102: Blessings in Mournings and Meekness"

Matthew 5: 4-5

2 Corinthians 7: 9-10

Isaiah 61: 1-4

      This morning, we are confronted with, and challenged by, the 2nd and 3rd of Jesus’ nine beatitudes

which open His Sermon on the Mount:  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” As with the first beatitude we talked about last

week, we are again hit in the chops with statements which, on the face of some of them, seem

oxymoronic; self-contradictory.  In fact, all of the beatitudes hold within them the potential to shake

us at the level of our foundational beliefs about life, and how things are supposed to work.



  Matthew 5:3-12

  Psalm 86:1-7

      On this first Sunday in Lent, we begin a series of messages on what are commonly called “The

Beatitudes;” the “blessed are they” statements.  The beatitudes actually serve as a prelude to the

Sermon on the Mount, preserved in chapters 5 through 7 in Matthew’s Gospel.  Some of the same

Beatitudes – with slight variations – are also found in the 6th chapter of Luke.  But for our purposes

over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll depend heavily on Matthew’s account.

      Matthew places this most renowned of sermons early in the chronology of Jesus’ ministry.  Je-

sus had been baptized by John in the Jordan River.  He’d endured forty days of temptation in the

wilderness.  He’d begun His teaching in Galilee to rave reviews.  And He’d begun the process of

choosing and calling those who would become His inner-circle.  Before long, Jesus’ fame had

spread far and wide.  People came in huge numbers to hear His teaching and to be healed of their

afflictions.  On one particular occasion, the crowd was becoming so overwhelmingly enormous

that Jesus retreated to a high place where He sat down.  In typical rabbinical fashion, surrounded

by His student followers, He began to teach.

          (Read Matthew 5:3-12)

"Game Changer"

Mark 9: 1-8

Luke 22: 14-20

      Have you ever had a mountaintop experience?  By mountaintop experience, I mean an intensely

personal experience or life event which, on some level, was profoundly life-changing; transformative. 

Oftentimes, such mountaintop experiences separate all which came before from all which comes after. 

I guess a good way to understand a mountaintop experience is as a game changer.  So let me reframe

my question.  Have you had a game changer in your life?