Good afternoon, saints of God! The readings for this coming Sunday are Psalm 15; Micah 6:1-8; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12. “Blessed” is a word that we Christians often use to describe how we’re feeling anytime we are particularly aware of how good God has been to us. But as often as the word gets used, how might you define a “blessing” to someone who doesn’t go to church or doesn’t even believe in God? Jesus’ opening words in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) offer us some guidance in answering this question. First, you will notice that all the people Jesus mentions, are blessed because of something they have received from God rather than achieved for Him. Blessings are always gifts – freely given. Therefore, blessing rules out the possibility of boasting (1 Corinthians 1). Second, you will notice that all the blessings spoken by Jesus (except the final two) are in the future tense. They are based on a future promise that has not yet been fully realized. Many of our greatest blessings are hidden in circumstances that may be outwardly painful and hard — like grief, financial hardship, and unresolved conflict. So often it’s only in these lowest moments in life when our vision of heaven comes into focus and our hope of eternal life becomes strong. Understanding this definition of blessing as a hidden gift from God -freely given and future focused- helps us keep a right perspective on life. Even on our worst days, we remain richly and deeply blessed.