Posted below is the sermon, which was written and delivered by my dear friend (and fellow Trekkie), the Reverend Naomi Kelly. Naomi serves as pastor of Forest Presbyterian Church in Lyons Falls, NY. This sermon is reprinted with her permission.
Her text is the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12.
I’m sure that you’ve watched many Star Trek episodes, and I’m sure you’re familiar with the Episode from Star Trek: The Next Generation where Captain Picard becomes a little boy, there is some kind ionic cloud and passes over the shuttle craft and he, Guinan and Ensign Ro are genetically altered to the time just before puberty, they are pre-teens is you will. Captain Picard is very happy that he has hair, and when the antidote seems impossible and the he will be young and grow up again, and be given another chance to go through life, he begins to imagine what he can become, he was already a Star Ship Captain, maybe this time he will be an archaeologist, another one of his passions. But soon the ship is in danger and young or not he must act, he must do something to save his ship. It was very difficult for him not being able to command his ship the way he used to. He still has all his skills, only in a younger body. And he finds that when he changes his perspective and begins to see with the eyes of a child he is able to do great things, he is able to use his childishness to save the ship. His perspective is changed as he figures out what he needs to do in order to succeed at his calling. When Jean Luc was able to humble himself, to become vulnerable, to allow the child that he’d become to direct his actions, he was able to do great things. Star Trek always has the ability to give us new and fresh perspectives on our culture by taking us outside ourselves just enough so that we can see where we fall short, where we need work, what we can do better.
Jesus does that too, (you see Star Trek always copies Jesus) Jesus gives us new perspectives on life, like His Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes give us one such twist. Seasons of the Spirit, a commentary on “Year A January 30, 2011 says: “In these saying, Jesus turns human notions of happiness upside down. What kind of living brings God’s blessing? Jesus teaches that the blessed ones are those who are humble of heart, who are gentle, who show mercy, who hunger and thirst for God’s ways. Those who mourn will be comforted; those who make peace will be called God’s children. Those who are persecuted in the cause of justice will find themselves part of God’s transforming reality.”
The Beatitudes give us a beautiful vision of what the world can be like. It is a vision that allows us to see the world from a different perspective. Like Paul says in the letter to the Philippians we need to be humble as Jesus was humble, to be more Christ like- that gentle merciful nature that is part of us, that we hide away, because we think it makes us vulnerable is what Jesus reminds us to show to the world. The kind of power that we’re used to, is not God’s idea of power.
These stories are revealing of the church in a way, they remind us that at one time the church took itself too seriously, that we began to want more power and influence in the world, and now all the mainline denominations are struggling, perhaps we lost the vision of Jesus’ teachings, perhaps the world doesn’t need what we have to offer anymore. I don’t know about you, but I often think I know better than God, I have all the answers, this kind of attitude leaves us inflexible, and not humble at all.
It is time for new a perspective again, it is time to reform and always be reforming, it is time to read the words that we have had handed down to us with new eyes, in a new light, and see where we need to change our perspective. The Spirit of Christ enables us to do that, gives us the insight and vision to change. Just as the young Jean Luc was able to change his perspective and use the skills of a pre-teen to save his ship, we are able to open to new ways of being church to make a difference in our world. And we can say, Blessed are the weak because when we are weak then God is strong and can influence and change our lives and our behavior. Blessed are the flexible for they will survive the changes that come along.
Blessed are the young at heart for they will able to transform the church to serve the world and each other.