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Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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At the beginning of the story of Jesus’ ministry, Matthew records the Sermon on the Mount, starting with the Blessings of the disciples.
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, …
‘Blessed are those who mourn, …
‘Blessed are the meek, …
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, …
‘Blessed are the merciful, …
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, …
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, …
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, … Matthew 5.1-12

Jesus could be described as giving out the Golden Globe for mourners, the Oscar for the poorest in spirit, the Grammy for the persecuted.

Jesus knows that this is who the disciples are with God. Blessed are you for what you are. This is where we start. We are blessed by God with a sense of our need for God, with love that grieves loss, with humility in the face of God’s greatness and graciousness, with a hunger and thirst for God’s justice, with the gift of mercy for those who suffer, with a purity of heart, with the ability to choose peace, and what we need to stand up for what is right.

This is who we are, what we receive from God.

And what can you expect from Jesus? — a different kind of rewards programme

This isn’t a transactional relationship: If I am x, then I get y. If I do a then my reward will be b. No.

You already have the gifts of God’s grace to experience blessedness.

This isn’t the usual message when people read the beattitudes. It’s much more usual to hear that these are the goals for living your life and if you achieve these goals, you will be rewarded with the kingdom of heaven — which is something outside of the world as we know it.

But all these present tenses — ‘Blessed are…’ give us pause to ask if there isn’t room for another interpretation.

We are already blessed. Blessedness is not a reward for being good or doing good. Blessedness is God’s sheer gift.

Knowing that our blessed state is God given, can be totally freeing.

Think of the Amish father reflecting on the man who killed his daughter in a school shooting in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: “I was so thankful to God that I didn’t have to make a judgment on his soul.” This is the voice of a man who knows he is deeply blessed, even in his mourning.

We live in a blessed state. For that we can be grateful. Our reaction of gratitude is not a passive happiness. Out of our blessedness we live lives of gratitude and that gratitude becomes justice, mercy, the love of God shared with the needy, and what we need to stand firm in our faith no matter what.

This past week in Kiev, protests turned into a pitched battle between police and protesters. The monks of a local abbey stood between them. Listen to Fr. Alipy, their superior on his facebook page:

“I just came home to change my clothes and warm myself. I am writing quickly. That is because at midnight I must return to the Maidan, which has turned all of its aggression to Grushevsky Street. From 14:00 I stood with the brothers of Desyatina Monastery at their prayer post. After 18:00 Fr. Victor, secretary of the diocese, and Fr. Giorgy, press secretary, arrived. They took my place. I am grateful to them for that, because my neck muscles stiffened.
You can’t even imagine how important it is for the clergy to stand there!
So many people came up to us (even people in masks!—secretly) and thanked us for standing there. … I will write quickly: my teeth are still chattering, but I have to go back.”

He had what he needed; God had made him a peacemaker.

Blessed are we so that our motivation is not honour or shame, piety or good deeds, but the promise of abundant life.



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