Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. - Matthew 24:7-8
Preaching the Beatitudes
David Buttrick is author of Speaking Jesus: Homiletic Theology and the Sermon on the Mount (Westminster John Knox). He notes:
"We must be careful: The Beatitudes are not law and not moral instruction. They are neither didactic teachings nor rulebook rules. Preachers can urge congregations to be forgiving or to work as peacemakers, but look out, for there are complicating factors. First, we must not forget that human sinfulness runs deep. Not only is there a strange reluctance in each of us to choose God's will over our own dreams and desires, but when we are ‘packaged,' that is, put together in social groups - corporations, nations, clubs, clans, even churches - we are doubly dangerous. To tell congregations to go out and make peace everywhere is unhelpful moralizing unless you spell out how difficult it will be to ignore prejudices, political alliances, social pressures, patriotisms and the like, all of which are formed by sin. In view of sin, the Beatitudes rely on God's own innovative grace."
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