Happiness and where we can really find it – Matthew 5:1-13 Family Service Sermon by Revd Alex Pease

Welcome

The service today is going to be all about Happiness.

Each of the children has been given an envelope don’t open it until I say so!

Introduction to the theme of the service 

We are going to be asking the question – Where is lasting happiness to be found?

Jesus taught his friends about this in a long talk that he gave to them called ‘The Sermon on the Mount’

And we are going to hear about this this morning

I am making a happy place and an unhappy place

Put up a sign: ‘happy’/ unhappy

Don’t mean by ‘happy’ constantly shouting ‘yippee!’…but lasting continuous ‘contentment’ ‘joy’

We call people who are happy: lucky in life

But don’t mean ‘lucky in life’ – I don’t mean ‘lucky’ in the sense of something random like someone who wins the lottery

A better word is ‘Fortunate’ contrasted with ‘Unfortunate’

So please open your envelopes and take out the photographs of people

Look at the faces.

If the face looks to you like someone lucky in life or fortunate bring it to the happy place.

If the face looks like someone unfortunate or unlucky in life bring it to the unhappy place.

Interesting….

Matthew 5:1-12 Message Version

‘When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside.  Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him.  Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions.  This is what he said: 

“You’re blessed when you are at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule. 

You’re blessed when you feel that you have lost what is most dear to you.  Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. 

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more and no less.  That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought 

You’re blessed when you have worked up a good appetite for God.  He’s food and drink in the best meal you will ever eat. 

You’re blessed when you care.  At the moment of being ‘care-full’ you find yourselves cared for. 

You’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right.  Then you can see God in the outside world. 

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.  That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. 

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.  The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. 

Not only that – count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me.  What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.  You can be glad when that happens – give a cheer even! – for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.  And know that you are in good company.  My prophets and witnesses have always got into that kind of trouble” ‘

Talk

Jesus uses a special word when he was talking to his companions: ‘blessed’ ‘makarios’ in Ancient Greek. That word means ‘happy or fortunate or lucky in life’

So when he says that you’re blessed: when you are at the end of your rope; sad; hurt; weak; when you have lost everything you care about; when you suffer; He means – you are lucky in life or fortunate; when this happens: You are blessed when this happens

Switch signs round

So what Jesus is saying is those people who look unhappy are the ones who are blessed – the ones who are really the happy ones.

So the question is how can this be?

When we feel miserable; in what way are we fortunate?

You may well ask!

When other people seem:

Famous

Or intelligent

Or powerful

Or rich

Or beautiful

Or slim

And we just feel

Insignificant

Or Stupid

Or Weak

Or Poor

Or Ugly

Or too fat or too skinny

How can the Creator of the Universe, the one who made us to his design

Say it’s these ones; these ones like us who are blessed?

It’s because it is when we recognise, that we cannot live life by ourselves

When we accept that; we cannot stand on our own feet

That we realise we need God.

Feelings of:

inadequacy; or suffering provide the opportunity, the reason  to call out to God

Put up photograph of God in the Sistene Chapel 

Do you see how Adam is in this scene from the Sistene Chapel?

God is stretching out to him; But Adam can barely be bothered to lift his finger

This is how we can so easily be; when all is going well; when others would call us fortunate…

But it’s when we are broken, that we call out to him; that our arms stretch out to him; its then that he can help us.

So often it is when people are desperate and have called out to God: ‘if you are there Lord please help me’; that he has come into their lives and their lives have been changed.

But we may say:

But those other people – they are so lucky;

They seem to have everything; And I have nothing.

But appearances can be deceptive.

Who are the most beautiful people you know?

The ones we think are the most fortunate?

The ones we see as the luckiest?

Perhaps someone on television; a celebrity, maybe

It is so important for us; to take on board that their lives are not necessarily all they seem from the pages of ‘Hello’.

One example:in the area of marriage: The Marriage Foundation recently announced a statistical study indicating that celebrity marriages are twice as likely to break up as those of the rest of us.

Sir Paul Coleridge (former Family Court judge writes)

“There is a disconnect between the nature of real long term relationships and the dramatised and apparently more exciting versions portrayed on screen or imagined for them by the rest of us…. All of us subconsciously want to believe that these beautiful people are living an idealised life which we can vicariously enjoy. … The….statistics [paint a picture] to those who regard the celebrity life style as something to be admired and copied for its own sake. These are, after all, the role models upon which many, especially young people, fashion their lives. Aspiration for happiness built on celebrity lifestyle is, it seems, dangerously flawed..” 

http://www.marriagefoundation.org.uk/Shared/Uploads/Products/42601_MF%20celeb%20paper%20final.pdf

Happiness is not found in aspiring to the celebrity life style.

But in being inspired by God.

By taking our value from the value that He places on us; and by seeking comfort from Him m when we are at the end of our rope, or we have lost all we care about.

Happiness is found in finding the purpose for which God created us.

Happiness is found in seeking and finding Him.

Amen

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