Life is like…
Matthew 5:1-12

I’ve brought something with me this morning that is loved by many people, despised by others, the source of a form of addiction for some, something that can be dark and mysterious, would anyone like to hazard a guess as to what it is?

That’s right, it is a box of chocolates.  Now who can give me the most famous quote about a box of chocolates of all time, complete with accent if you can do it…”My Momma always said, “Life is like box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”” Straight from the movie Forrest Gump.

When you think about it this quote is pretty close to the mark, perhaps that’s why it is number forty in the top one hundred movie quotes of all time.  When you open up a box of chocolates and look inside, unless you are a bit of an expert and buy that particular brand regularly you probably aren’t sure what’s inside each individual chocolate.  If you just randomly put your hand into the box you may get one that you absolutely love, or one that you can tolerate or even one you don’t like at all (if you have an allergy to nuts you may want to stay clear altogether!).

Most of us would rather take a little bit of time and search for the picture that tells us what each chocolate contains.  I’ve seen those keys under the lid, inserted as a separate sheet or most often underneath the box.  No matter where they are, the desire is usually to take a close look and pick out your favourite, starting with the nicest one first and then working your way through.  To do so we may have to turn the box upside down for a while to get a good look at what we are about to devour and maybe even take the time to memorise our favourite ones.

It’s not that different in life is it?  When you start out each day do you look at the tasks that are laid out before you and think I will do the yucky jobs first and then reward myself with the more pleasant ones, or do you just get stuck in to the better ones and hope that someone else will come along and do the not-so-great ones?

If we had a choice of going through days and weeks and months where we are experiencing things we would rather avoid and having an easy and comfortable life we probably would.  We’d love to avoid the flavours that aren’t so palatable wouldn’t we, leave them in the box for someone else or even throw them in the bin so that no-one has to endure them.

That’s kind of what Jesus was warning the disciples about, they were new to this fishing for people caper; they weren’t very sure about what Jesus had invited them into.  So one of the first things he did was to take them aside and give them some pointers.  The beatitudes as we know them are a series of statements that turn the box of chocolates (their world) upside down.  Most of the things that Jesus says are things that we would like to see the other way around in our world.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, who really wants to be poor in spirit, it doesn’t sound like fun does it, yet, they are told that the poor in spirit get the kingdom of heaven, which is surely a good thing.

Then comes one of the most difficult ones, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  I don’t think any one of us here would ever desire to be in mourning, I’m sure you will all agree that mourning the death of a loved one sucks.  Yet in the same breath you also see that the statement of Jesus is true, there is comfort for those who mourn.  Comfort is invariably given by friends and family through their care and support and also through the gospel, the promise of resurrection from the dead and eternal life.  Unfortunately death is an unavoidable part of life, through it comes blessing for the one who has departed, in eternal life, our blessing comes through the comfort of that fact and knowing that we too will one day receive that gift.

Now I’m not going to go through each of Jesus’ statements one by one but you get the gist of what is going on here.  Human nature often takes us away from the will of God, we don’t really want to be meek, or merciful or pure, or peacemakers, or persecuted, we often fight to be the exact opposite, yet we discover that through these attributes and activities God truly blesses us.

God turns things upside down; he does things in a way that confuses the world and often us.  You could say God turns the box of chocolates right side up again.  We want to flip things over so we can pick and choose how we go through life, but God says, trust me, I will be with you, let’s do this my way.  As we heard in our first reading, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low in the world…so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 

We might not fully understand or comprehend the way God works in our lives, but we know that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” and that, neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When our box of chocolates is bringing us things that are hard to take, God has promised to be with us and to love us and to bring about the kingdom of God in our lives.  Do not be afraid, but seek the blessing that God brings through his love and presence in his kingdom.  Live in joyful hope and the promise that one day when our time comes we will be enjoying life in heaven, God’s eternal kingdom, where all our chocolates will be our favourites, where there will be no more crying and no more tears, persecution will come to an end and joy and peace will be the order of the day.

May the Lord bless you and keep you always, in all that you do and say, from now until eternity.

Amen.