Sorry for the lateness of the last post but I am a night owl and do a lot of my thinking when everyone is going to bed! I’ve tried to make this one slightly earlier.
Where were we?… Oh yes…
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full’, you find yourselves cared for. (The Message)
Blessed are those who know forgiveness and extend it to others. We don’t just need to know the need for God but we must be reminded of what it is He gives us; mercy. I’m trying to shake a very bad rendition of ‘Mercy’ by Duffy out of my head shown on X Factor this week, despite its awfulness it had a message behind it; “Release me… Release you… we all need release.” Forgiveness is something liberates people again and again.
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘You’re sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?
Well actually this needs a little more thought. Forgiveness, at times, is much harder than even miracles! It is, however, at the very centre of our faith; our sins are forgiven. Forgiveness is not about forgetting but it is about loving and being hospitable to those who hate you or you have hated.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Welcome, hospitality and friendship this is what being Christ-like is, particularly to those who experience so little of forgiveness and mercy. It’s a real blessing to be growing a community from scratch because there are no cliques, no traditions, no ‘norms’ and so the doors are flung open to all and any to come and shape the community. This is something that we will need to revisit after a year to see how we welcome others.
We give you thanks and praise, that when we were still far off you met us in your Son and brought us home. May we extend the welcome of Your home to others. Remind us, continually, that the final judgement is Yours and Yours alone and that You see everyone as they will be and not as they are.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Mt 5:8)
You’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. (The Message)
Blessed are those who single mindedly strive after holiness. How do we balance our distinct holiness whilst, at the same time, being merciful and forgiving? Too often we become Pharisaical in our approach to this beatitude but we must be shaped, evenly, by all eight not just one! The only way to live by the, seemingly, impossible standards set in ‘The Sermon on The Mount’ (Mt 5-7) is by living in the holiness of the ‘Holy’ Spirit who transforms us from within. Living in purity is not self-achieved but rather fruits from being rooted in God. When you dwell in the Spirit then you will see God, moving and working in our lives. There’s a quick point here about the Eucharist which is important; To attain purity we must return to the sacrifice of Christ to be led into the presence of God with mercy and humility. As a community striving for purity of heart we must be cleansed, again and again, and so there needs to be a sacramental aspect if we are to be Christian. Here’s where the Christian aspect of the community comes undone for there must be intent in the sacraments and so, like the previous beatitude we must revisit this. We can, however, be people who encourage purity and holiness. In our reflections on ourselves we must see the areas which lead us into pain and ‘darkness’ and allow God to prompt us onto another path.
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts that we would look directly at Your face and be transformed. We are not worthy to be close to You but we are washed clean because of Your Son. Help us to be prompted and directed by Your loving hands into paths of righteousness and holiness.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Mt 5:9)
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. (The Message)
Blessed are those who face conflict without fear and steer through difficulty. Conflict is difficult! Let’s admit it and it arises in every walk of life and it will even breach the walls of Christian communities.Let us prepare to discern the difficult situations and model reconciliation. As we near the end of The Beatitudes I begin to see repetitions occurring but, as I said, it is all eight working together that shapes us into Jesus’ disciples. As a new community forms a leader must prepare the people for conflict and difficulties and model peacefully facing conflict themselves. Here we return to handing power over while, at the same time, discerning the time to stand firm and strive for holiness.
Prince of Peace, we long to be Your children. Remind us of the peace that passes all understanding particularly at times of difficulty, stress and conflict that we may steer through it with right thinking, pure heart and love for those we face.”
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:10)
You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. (The Message)
Blessed are those who are a challenge to others and who are challenged in their walk with Christ. A strong link with the previous beatitude and the final one of eight leads to an inevitable conclusion; persecution. Immediately, I think of physical violence and underground meetings; thankfully this is not the case but there is the difficulty of living differently. If we have shaped our communities around the example of Jesus then this final beatitude is not only inevitable but modelled in the Passion He endured.
Prepare us for our crosses. Lead us the difficult road to Calvary. Be with us in our suffering for walking with You and show us Your glorious kingdom. For this hope sustains us always.”
I’m at the stage of starting a community and already I’m considering those leaving but I continually find myself stuck between two thought processes; one, in the present where no one has heard of let alone shown interest in this community and the second the future, what will this lead to? Where is it headed? This is a confusing place to be in but here I stand waiting for them both to meet…
If you’re the praying sort then please do pray for October, for the people who will join, for a genuine interest in the community and that I will have wisdom as to how to communicate the vision.