The Parish of Sandal Magna

Blessings where we are

In a mere 96 words Jesus gives us his inspiring and challenging teaching known as the Beatitudes, at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. 
The Beatitudes are the New Testament equivalent of the Ten Commandments, but Jesus builds on the foundation of the law with his Gospel of Grace. Jesus begins with blessings rather than prohibitions, and describes the attributes of those who believe in him and belong to God's Kingdom. As John writes in his Gospel: "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." 
These attributes are not ones which the world values; who would choose to be poor, to weep, to be meek, to hunger and thirst? 
But this is where we sometimes are. Who finds it easy to have integrity of heart, be merciful and a peacemaker? This is where we would like to be. Of course none of these can be achieved or endured in our own strength by willpower alone. We need the spirit of Jesus to impart the attributes of Jesus to us, because the Beatitudes are really a portrait of the character of Jesus. An example would be Jesus saying in Matthew 11:28-9: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

When we receive the spirit of Jesus we begin to be shaped by his personality and priorities. His self-sacrificial life becomes ingrained in our lives. Below is the translation in The Message translation, which gives us a fresh perspective on familiar words.
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
As we rediscover the vitality of the Beatitudes in our Sunday worship and midweek groups, may we indeed receive all the blessings that Jesus promises to those who believe in him. And may their attractiveness draw others to decide to follow this Jesus who in his life and death and resurrection embodied everything that he taught so memorably and succinctly. Rupert

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© Sandal Magna PCC 2016.
Registered Charity Number 1131795.


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