July 12th Sermon on the Mount 6 “Purity”

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We live in a world where it can be hard to see God or God’s hand in things.  Some people don’t see God at all.   Many of us haven’t seen God yet, but we will.

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God”-Matthew 5:8

Purity means freedom from contamination or adulteration.  Purity means that something is 100% of just one ingredient or substance.  In the Bible, purity is usually associated with righteousness of charity, but we also use the word with any kind of substance that has no outside substances; so you can have pure carbon, pure water, and pure soap.  Ivory soap once advertised that it was 99 and 44/100 pure, which means it wasn’t pure at all.  A glass of water that is 99 and 44/100 % pure can kill you if that 0.56% is arsenic, strychnine, or even liquid nicotine.

Purity can be related to single-mindedness; to be undistracted and focused on God. The basic meaning of today’s text is that people who are completely dedicated to God will eventually see God.  Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God makes us pure.  It is not something we can attain for ourselves.  So, those who are made pure and freed from sin will see God as well as they can see anyone else.

There is another meaning to today’s text.  Purity in heart can also be something that happens in flashes or in moments.

In the original version of Peter Pan, the author describes a pixie or sprite named Tinkerbelle as being too small to be more than one thing at once:  She is either completely good, or completely mischievous at any given time.  Anyone who owns a cat will know the same idea.  Most cats seem 100% into whatever they are doing.  They are all for running, all for napping, all for eating, all for stalking, or all for cuddling.  There are no transitions from one mood to another. 

People are not cats, but people do experience purity of mind and spirit in flashing moments.  You can’t manufacture these moments, but you can put yourself into situations that make these moments more likely. 

These moments of purity are often sparked by something beautiful and unexpected, like seeing a sunset, a rainbow or hearing a passage of music.

We can get glimpses of God’s handiwork when we experience and contemplate nature.  Sometimes, when we are with another person, the love of God pervades the moment, and we can have an experience of seeing God in their faces.

When we truly appreciate a brother or sister as a child of God, we get glimpses of the love that is moving through us all.

You can’t manufacture moments of purity in heart and mind, but there are things you can do to make them more likely.  During times that we are not isolated by a pandemic, we can find these moments in worship and prayer with others.  Even family meals and walks can lead to these moments.  When we are alone, it can help to get out in nature and let the beauty soak into us.  Prayer and meditation can also open us up to these moments of clarity and purity.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  I think it would be appropriate to add (if we are open to these moments) that the pure in heart will see God everywhere.

Questions to Ponder:  Have you had a moment of clarity about God?  What do you do that can allow you these moments of purity of heart?

Blessings,

Pastor Rick