Dear friends,

It has been an exciting week in Philadelphia and throughout the Mid-Atlantic regions as the region has welcomed Pope Francis and as Philadelphia prepares to welcome him tomorrow and Sunday.  I am personally excited as my friend Derek and I are going to hear Pope Francis’ address on religious liberty and immigration tomorrow afternoon at Independence Hall.  To be in such an historic place and to hear this extraordinary man speak will be a moving and humbling experience.  What makes Pope Francis extraordinary?  To paraphrase Tony Campolo, “Is it his title?  Or is it his testimony?” 

As I think about Pope Francis, I think about this week’s Beatitude in our sermon series.  “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.”  Blessed are the meek.  Once again the Beatitudes seem upside down.  We know it’s not the meek who inherit the earth, but the strong.  This is partly because the word meek has almost come to mean the same as weak or harmless.  People think a meek person is something like a doormat for other people to step on and over.  But this is far from the Biblical understanding of the word.  In the Bible meek is used to describe Moses. (Number 12:3) and Jesus (Matthew 11:29).  There was nothing weak about Moses or Jesus.  Likewise there is nothing weak about Pope Francis.  We saw his strength yesterday when he addressed congress and spoke truth to both sides of the aisle

Clarence Jordan writes, “People may be called meek to the extent that they have surrendered their wills to God and learned to do God’s bidding.”  To do God’s bidding.  According to the Gospel of John, after Jesus had washed his disciples feet in the Upper Room, he said to them, “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”  During his first Holy Week as Pope, Pope Francis followed Jesus’ command.  But he didn’t just wash the feet of his fellow clergy; he went to a prison and washed the feet of prisoners.  Yesterday, Pope Francis didn’t stick around for the power lunch at the Capital, but had lunch with the homeless.  Pope Francis has the attitude of meekness.  It is his meekness that makes him so extraordinary. 

As we listen to him this weekend and as we explore the meaning of “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth,” this Sunday, let us be open to God’s call and promise found in this Beatitude. 

Pastor Dave