Please Note: Lenten Small Groups begin this this week. Join in Sunday at 10am on the 3rd floor or on Thursday at noon at the Creekmore Sweetbay Quiet Room. Readings for the groups are available in the church office.

Dear Church Family,

During worship in Lent we will be studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. If you would like to read it you will find it in chapters 5-7 of Matthew’s gospel. St. Augustine said of this sermon, “If any one will piously and soberly consider the sermon which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke on the mount, as we read it in the Gospel according to Matthew, I think that he will find in it, so far as regards the highest morals, a perfect standard of the Christian life.”

Jesus’ sermon begins with the Beatitudes and so we will as well:

He taught them saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” —Matthew 5: 3-10

The heart of the Beatitudes seems to be righteousness, justice and peace. And Jesus shows in this litany that the way to spread justice and righteousness and peace in this world is to embody these other qualities: be meek, be merciful, be pure in heart, be aligned with the poor and those who mourn so that you are poor and mourn as well. We cannot just promote justice, peace and righteousness in the world. We have to embody these things ourselves. Writer Eric Simpson explains it this way: “The Beatitudes teach us how to “be peace,” not just be at peace, but to become peace so that peace can spread, and that peace can come from being rooted both in the life of God and in the physical world.”

These seemingly paradoxical statements are the heart of our Christian faith. Even more than the 10 Commandments, which are also called the Law of Moses, the Beatitudes encapsulate everything we seek after in our discipleship for they are the Law of Christ. The more we wrestle with them and bear them in ourselves, the more they will show in our lives and in the world.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me your way this day. In this season of discipline, penitence and prayer, help me to live into your teaching so that I will experience what you mean by “blessing.” Give an opening in my heart for your work to take root. Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you all,