taking the words of Jesus seriously

Last night I had the strangest dream…

It was graduation day at Liberty University. Donald Trump was the speaker.

Jerry Falwell Jr. introduced Mr. Trump to an enthusiastic crowd… or so it seemed.

As the applause died down, he began his remarks. But then there was a disturbance. A young woman stood to her feet and interrupted: “Blessed are the poor.” There was an awkward pause, then some folks in the crowd muttered back, “For theirs is the kingdom of God.”

Security came and removed the girl.

A few seconds later, another young woman stood and belted: “Blessed are the hungry.” The crowd responded more quickly this time: “For they shall be filled.”

Several other women scattered throughout the auditorium were now standing as they called out: “Blessed are the meek.” And the crowd said back: “For they shall inherit the earth.”

Security scurried about. It was impossible to get to them all. Mr. Trump began to get flustered.

There were now dozens of women on their feet as they cried out: “Blessed are the pure in heart.” A thunderous crowd called back: “For they shall see God.”

All over the auditorium women were rising, standing to their feet: “Blessed are those who mourn.” And the crowd replied: “For they will be comforted.”

They were getting the rhythm now. The security guards were stupefied and stood still. Mr. Trump stopped speaking.

The women were radiant and defiant. Their voices rang out like angels: “Blessed are the merciful.” It felt like the whole auditorium roared back in unison: “For they will be shown mercy.”

Nearly every woman in the auditorium was standing, even some of the men: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” And the walls shook as their voices rolled, “For they are the children of God.”

The whole crowd was on their feet. I even thought I saw a security guard smile as the last chorus came from the masses: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness and justice.” I could have sworn I even saw Mr. Trump’s lips move to the final beat, as the crowd said: “For great is their reward.”

It was a holy moment at Liberty University. It was a graduation that will never be forgotten.

Then I woke up.

On May 13, Donald Trump will speak at Liberty University’s commencement. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty, recently called Trump the “dream president” for evangelicals. Yet during his first visit to Liberty in January 2016, Trump didn’t mention Jesus a single time. Still, he was invited back to speak at graduation.

It is not too late for students to organize a holy interruption.

Liberty students: you have an opportunity to make history. You have a chance to make sure that Liberty students are known more for your commitment to Jesus than to Trump, more for your dedication to the gospel than to a political party.

Consider below this simple call-and-response liturgy that comes straight from the mouth of Jesus. Perhaps you can write it on your arms or share it on notecards so that everyone is ready on May 13.

We are all watching and praying for you. I plan on catching your graduation on livestream. But if you have an extra ticket, I’d love to be there.

[as applause fades]

WOMEN: Blessed are the poor.

ALL:  For theirs is the kingdom of God.

WOMEN: Blessed are the hungry.

ALL: For they shall be filled.

WOMEN: Blessed are the meek.

ALL: For they shall inherit the earth.

WOMEN: Blessed are the pure in heart.

ALL: For they shall see God.

WOMEN: Blessed are those who mourn.

ALL:  For they shall be comforted.

WOMEN: Blessed are the merciful.

ALL: For they shall be shown mercy.

WOMEN: Blessed are the peacemakers.

ALL:  For they are the children of God.

WOMEN: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness and justice.

ALL: For great is their reward. 

About The Author


Shane Claiborne is a best-selling author, renowned activist,
 sought-after speaker, and self-proclaimed “recovering sinner.” Shane writes and speaks around the world about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus, and is the author of several books, 
including "The Irresistible Revolution," "Jesus for President," "Executing Grace," "Beating Guns," and his newest book, "Rethinking Life (released in Feb 2023)." He is the visionary leader of The Simple Way in Philadelphia and co-director of Red Letter Christians. His work has been featured in Fox News, Esquire, SPIN, TIME, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and CNN.

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