At the conclusion of the Beatitudes, Jesus warns us that fulfilling these will not be easy. That first line reminds me of the battle that high school and college age students have to fight through as they try to practice their faith around peers who have do not understand. True, adults face these struggles too, but young adults are just learning how to say "Yes!" to God, let alone be insulted and persecuted for it. That decision to keep the faith and rise above is made from a place of grace many of us have yet to achieve.
Friends, young or old, our walks of faith are not called to be easy. In our early adult years, we are going to shamed and teased for choosing lives of abstinence from sex, alcohol, and drugs. Our decisions will be questioned by peers. In college, we are confronted by all kinds of ideas that will make us question the faith our parents raised us in. Don't shy from the opportunity to learn and understand; ask questions and seek answers! Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, remember? It is righteous to seek answers to your questions about the faith! You will face deep heartache as friends go separate ways and what seemed like "meant to be" was temporary. You are blessed to have such beautiful things to mourn, and God will be beside you every step of the way.
As we enter our more adult years, we will have to choose moments to make ourselves smaller to build up our friends, family, and spouse, understanding that God has called us to live a meek life that does not seek itself first. We encounter more frustration and fear than we can possibly imagine, unable to plan for the unexpected. But it is the poor in spirit, who acknowledge God's greatness that will find God in these difficult times. We will guide others to God by showing them God's mercy rather reacting with anger. We will be persecuted for daring to say something is not right.
We are called to be salt and light to those in need. Take time to read over Matthew 5:13-16 and ask yourself how you are salt and light in this world. Do you shine light on injustice? Do you influence those around you for the good?
The Beatitudes our battle cry, what we have been brought here to do. And Wednesday marks the beginning of season to truly practice what we have been taught, to embark on mindful Lenten journey that will help us to truly practice what we preach. Please join us for a season of prayer, fasting, and giving, beginning with a celebration of our humanity and humility on Ash Wednesday.