These are the sixteenth set of Faith and Friendship Guidelines that have been offered as a stimulus to group sharing and as encourager to that building of friendship in Christ which is one of the chief motives for our existence. Over the years we have looked at many different themes from both the Old Testament and the New. This year there has been a request that we return to what was our focus in the very first edition, namely the Beatitudes. We have travelled a long way over the last fifteen years, both on our inner and outer journeys. Naturally, therefore, what I share with you over these months will not be exactly the same as it was then, but the underlying drumbeat of the mercy, justice, truth and peace of God, all held within the steadfast love which is his supreme hallmark, will hopefully be instantly recognisable. When you break the word ‘beatitude’ down, it really means ‘let this be your attitude.’ Throughout the pages of the New Testament we are urged to have the same attitude as Jesus had. You can read about that in Philippians 2:5-11. The beatitudes embody the person and the spirit of Jesus. The person most like Jesus, the Blessed One, is a beatitude person, a kingdom person. In Matthew 5 we read that Jesus, seeing the huge crowds, went up a mountainside, presumably so that all could hear – and began to teach. I like to think that he saw in the spirit, not just the crowds who were there on that day, but all those who would follow afterwards, the generations right through history of every tribe and race, who would hear these words and be challenged with what it means to be such a person.
The whole of good news living could be summed up in these eight little statements that really paint a picture of the sort of life Jesus desires for and of us. They shatter many myths, they lead us into strange truth, an upside down kingdom but a real one nonetheless – one that we eventually see is the right way up! As we seek to live them, we bless each other, we bless the community in which we live and work and worship, and we bless the world.
If we take these seriously, this will not be an easy journey. We have some climbing to do. May we be constantly aware of our Guide and Companion who has already scaled the steepest heights for you, for me and for all of humankind.
May you be blessed as you journey.
P.S. There will be suggestions for sharing at the end of each reflection. I would like to propose that in relation to our ‘doing’ we might like to think how, as a group, we could in some little way live out the beatitude for each month! For example, during Advent perhaps we could arrange beforehand to fast for all or part of the day of our meeting. Then we could meet together for a simple meal and share with each other our thoughts about hungering and thirsting. We might even want to make a small donation (whatever we might have spent, say, on lunch) towards the relief of world hunger.