Good afternoon everyone. I think you will agree it has been a weekend of surprises. Our speakers have enlightened, educated and challenged (not always in that order) – and we will all leave this conference far richer than when we arrived – ready to face the same challenges – but in ways which may be new to each of us.
But before we do, it gives me great pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker. Someone who needs no introduction from me. Someone each of you knows personally. Someone each has heard speak many times – yet every time something new – something fresh – something I have never “got” before.
So without further ado, please give a warm welcome to your friend and mine … Jesus of Nazareth …
Jesus took the stage. Looked down at His notes. Swept the room with His eyes. Then “Jesus looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
You ever known someone who is poor? You ask them what they need and they will say something small. They may dream big but they know small. They value stuff. They appreciate stuff. They appreciate kindness. That is living!
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.”
You ever watch someone who is hungry – not starving – but “hungry”? They take notice. They can taste the scent of food – they notice the different ingredients – they relish the preparation – they anticipate the joy of finally tasting that delicious food. That’s real living!
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
You ever seen someone who is bored? So much passes them by – like a small death of self in that “now”. You ever see someone cry? They yearn, they know today is not good, and they hope … They hope for better … They hope even through the tears. The tears are now – not forever. That’s living.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.”
You know any estate agents or real estate guys and gals? You know any bankers?
How much are they reviled and defamed – and that is just on account of their day job!
We live our stuff. We are our stuff!
I don’t have to tell you why –
I am here to tell you it’s okay! I am here to tell you that you are okay! I am here to tell what you already know: this stuff is not for everyone “now”. It wasn’t for you back then, it isn’t for some today – or tomorrow – or even the day after.
So don’t sweat the finite – you live in the now for ever.
And THAT is real living!!
But I can see a few doubters out there. I am familiar with doubters. I love doubters! So let’s switch it – let’s do an upside-downer –
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”
You want to be “rich”? You want to live the high life? You want to have “stuff”?
You don’t need me to tell you what you have to sacrifice to get there –to stay there – to keep it all – to stop others taking it from you …
We all know someone like that – maybe we were (maybe we are) someone like “that”. No free lunches and no free “stuff” – those riches cost you. Often your family, almost always your integrity, and always your inner voice. The one that cries in the long dark hours. The one that you ignore. Those riches erode. Those riches rot. And you rot along with them. And the truth? We are all just one “I wish” away from that, you and me.
So you be careful who you revile and defame for their wealth! You are only a choice or two different.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.”
You ever known anyone so full they never had to eat ever again? Me neither!
You gorge you fast – and then you need to eat again.
But you ever been so full it hurts? When you think your stomach will explode? And have you ever been so hungry you think your stomach will implode and eat its own flesh?
That is the full and hungry I mean. The full and hungry of extremes. The full of stuffing yourself so full there is no space for anyone or anything. And the hungry of wanting more – wanting anything – wanting someone to feed you.
“Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.”
This isn’t doom and gloom – this is “balance”. This is connection. This is relationship. This is the now for ever. You never want to feel that bad again? You never want to cry that hard again? You always want to be happy?
Look at me on the cross. You see my laughing then? You see me hiding my pain? You see me “behaving as they expected”?
I wouldn’t have been there at all if I was behaving as expected! Get real people – pain hurts – and pain is real. So when you laugh – just keep an eye out for others who aren’t.
Stay connected. Because maybe their pain is real for them right then.
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”
You want to be loved? You want to be held in high regard? You want to make a difference? You want a legacy – you want to be remembered? That’s okay.
Except when that takes over. When you question yourself all the time, when you are swayed by opinions all the time, when feedback sessions and questionnaires rule your next steps.
You make a difference every time you breath in and out.
You make a difference.
Every time you are silent when others expect words.
Every time you offer love when others expect judgment.
Every time you embrace when others expect distance.
Every time you don’t want to be loved
Every time you don’t want to make a difference
Every time you never think of making a difference.
THAT is when you make a difference.
THAT is when you are remembered.
THAT is who you are.
That is when you connect.
That is when you touch.
That is when others see you
Because that is when
And isn’t THAT
Who WE are … … … ?
Thank you for your time – have a safe journey home.
Luke 6:20-26 – a mash-up