Sermon on the MountApril Cheah
00:00 / 04:33

​​Song: Sermon On The Mount

by April Cheah

VERSE 1
Blessed are the poor in spirit
Theirs is the kingdom of God
Blessed are the grieving acquainted with tears
For they will find Him near

VERSE 2

Blessed are the meek and gentle
They shall inherit the earth
Blessed are the starving for justice and light
They shall be satisfied


CHORUS
Cause us to seek first Your kingdom
Teach us to carry Your peace
That we’ll be called children of God most high
All those who seek will find
All those who seek will find


VERSE 3
Blessed are the mercy givers
They will receive it in turn
Blessed are hearts that are pure
They will see Your risen reality

 

CHORUS

Stir us to love like You love us
Free us to give what we keep
Knowing our Father sees the secret things
Our treasure is in the King
Our treasure is in the King


BRIDGE
Lord speak to my worries and help cut me free
Of this bondage to comfort and vanity
When I see You again on that one final day will You know me
I want to know You
Will You know me
Help me know You


VERSE 4

Blessed are the peacemakers
They are Yours for You call and they come
Those blessed to suffer for righteousness’ sake
Your kingdom is theirs to partake

CHORUS

Lead us to walk with the suffering
Restore us to choose the harder road
That we will hear and do the word of Christ
Your way alone leads to life
Your way alone leads to life

 

CHORUS

Cause us to seek first Your kingdom
Teach us to carry Your peace
That we’ll be called children of God most high
All those who seek will find
Treasures where You are cannot be destroyed
And Your way alone leads to life

Songwriter's Reflections

Sometime in 2018, I attempted to memorise the Sermon on the Mount, together with a group of friends from my home church. What started out as an exercise in competitive obedience matured without fanfare into a sort of low-key day-to-day meditation. This song is the result of that meditation. The text has intrigued me, steadied me, challenged me, and forced me to confront the norms of the Kingdom that I had failed to embrace – like poverty, grief, suffering, secrecy. I have tried to keep the Beatitudes in their entirety in the right order, and have also tried to incorporate words of the text as a memory aid for others who may want to give this scripture memory a go.

The text’s connections with justice and mercy are unmissable, and its paradoxes are clarifying. Those whom the world calls unfortunate, the Lord calls blessed; those who would enter the kingdom are presented with stringent demands, yet emptied of any delusion that they can fulfill these standards by themselves; those who think they did great things in God’s name, He may not recognise. There is both comfort and indictment in these words, for those who have little and those who have much, and an invitation to all to seek and find.

Scripture

Matthew 5-7

 

"3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

- Matthew 5:3-12 (ESV)

About the Songwriter

 

April is a follower of Christ. She is a practising lawyer at Lee & Lee. Her immediate spiritual family is the community at Covenant Evangelical Free Church, where she serves as a zone mentor.

 

~~~

Visual: Blessed

by HAGAR Singapore

HAGAR is an international NGO and a registered charity in Singapore committed to the recovery and economic empowerment of women and children who have survived the trauma of human trafficking, slavery and abuse. We do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to restore a broken life. Since 1994, HAGAR has supported more than 40,000 women and children survivors from Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

In Singapore, HAGAR helps trafficking survivors and exploited foreign domestic workers on their recovery journey, empowering them to regain dignity, build resilience and skills to start a whole new life. Beyond supporting survivors, HAGAR also works to strengthen existing prevention efforts through collaborative partnerships with the government, civil society and the private sector to effectively combat human trafficking and exploitation issues locally and globally.

~~~

Devotional: Down From The Mountain

By David Wong Hsien Ming
 

In our first conversation on religion, my wife told me she once witnessed a middle-aged woman attempt to shove a bible into the hands of a salaryman at a subway platform in Seoul, and how, upon failing, the woman proceeded to slap the bible against the man’s back as he entered a cabin.

 

I found myself at one of those platforms in Seoul eventually, and wondered if the Sermon on the Mount, charged with imperatives from start to finish, would be seen as anything other than yet another imposition from an overzealous evangelist.

 

Still, as a Christian, I’m convinced that Jesus’ sermon would be as impactful if delivered today, with Jesus speaking to the lunch crowd in the business district, or perhaps to workers on a break in the middle of some industrial nexus; why?

 

Why not the scorn and avoidance we reserve for the aforementioned doomsday prophets and tract-warriors?

 

It’s easy to say that Jesus was simply a particularly charismatic hierophant. But before the commands to do or refrain, before the calls to action and authoritative warnings, are simple declarations of blessing – the Beatitudes – that carry none of the bombast and grandeur we’ve seen from charlatans across history.

 

If Jesus were merely a power-hungry political dissident, “blessed are the poor” would do more to rile up populist rage than “blessed are the poor in spirit”.

 

The latter invites interpretation. Importantly, it also invites the interpreter to act. To be blessed for being ‘poor’ is to be blessed for passively meeting a description or criteria. In contrast, whatever qualifies as being ‘poor in spirit’ requires engagement with ‘spirit’. Those who are “blessed” move towards a dynamic response to an unchanging truth by combining both theological understanding and personal experience.

 

No surprise then that the other beatitudes invoke actions (mourning, peacemaking), and any return to passive nouns or descriptors (meek, merciful) are met with others’ actions (inherit, receive mercy). There’s etymological evidence for this line of thinking about being ‘blessed’ not as a description but as a verb. Delving into what influenced the construction of the word ‘bless’ quickly brings us to Greek and Hebrew words that mean “to speak well of, praise, or eulogize” and “to bend” respectively.

 

The joy I find in the Beatitudes as a call to action is that it asks us to connect the personal to the divine, to have our broken, infinitesimal human understanding be the very bridge to wholeness in Christ.

 

This, I feel, is what April brings out when she sings of the blessed – an interior faith that is rooted in the intimacy of bending over the Word or being bent by it, and an exterior practice of faith that is as fiercely obedient as it is individualistic.

 

Of course, we have the concrete moral imperatives that subsequently appear in the Sermon on the Mount, but the primacy of the beatitudes suggests that once again, Jesus’ message is focused on God’s desire to relate to every individual.

 

In this way, translating the Sermon on the Mount into action becomes not an exercise in spiritual bureaucracy, but a radically empowering process of contributing one’s voice to that of the overall body of believers – a kind of radical democracy where Christians set out into the world with approaches to justice and peacemaking that diverge and converge, that are in conversation as much as they are in competition.

 

All this does not mean that God and the Word are changing, but only that our faith remains necessarily personal. We are blessed with a chance to deliberate on the divine as a means of intimacy with Christ – to this end at least, God does not work in such mysterious ways. Like an open book exam, the destination is set but the path may be chosen.

 

So when Jesus blessed the crowd, they were not merely comforted nor relieved of responsibility; his blessing was not a capstone to their lives, but the prologue to it.

 

I wonder about these people; what they went on to do after that day on the mountain; what cruelties, failures, miracles and mundanities they journeyed through. What is clear to me, however, is that from that point all the way to our current vantage point in history, the voice of that one who had authority (Matthew 7:29) is still either woven into or unwound from a life’s journey. All are called, in some way, in some moment, to seek the root of goodness and reckon with what is found.

 

Prayer

 

Lord, we come to you in this moment, some of us having washed off the burdens of the day, some of us still mired in it. Whatever our state, we come in recognition of your grace and your mercy. Help us to remember your Word and help us help us find new wonders in it as we carry it with us. Help us bring these wonders to those around us as we seek justice and peace to our immediate communities. Lord, help us draw strength from each other, no matter how far afield we may be in this time of uncertainty and instability, that we may then give to those in need. Amen.
 

About David Wong Hsien Ming

David Wong Hsien Ming discovered poetry as a child at a Sunday lunch. His work explores the dualities and contradictions of being, and has appeared in publications like Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and Mascara Literary Review. His first collection, For the End Comes Reaching (2015) is a meditation on the sense of loss that accompanies each having. He worships at Yio Chu Kang Chapel. Visit davidwonghsienming.wordpress.com for more.