How can we possibly sum up the journey we have been on this fall? In so many ways, it culminates in these final two Beatitudes. As we follow Jesus in the kingdom way, we become the kind of people who love deeply and sacrificially. And when we embody this radical love, we open ourselves to the possibility of persecution.
After singing “Open Up” and reflecting once again on Matthew 5, Clary shared examples of persecution in our world, and he taught that Jesus invites us into a life of radical love. Jesus promises there is a cost associated to loving like him. We explored what we might be holding too tightly because we have bought into the lie that our happiness, our safety, our comfort, and even our lives are more important than others.
Clary brought the kingdom reality, the truth that God’s kingdom is greater than anything we might be clinging to. Jesus promises that when we lose our life we will find it. When we are willing to let go of our pride, our image, and our very own life, we will find Christ. And while persecution is painful, there is peace in the persecution. There is peace in the knowledge that God’s kingdom is being formed in us, and we know we will one day experience the fullness of his kingdom.
After a practice and prayer of surrender, we gathered at the ultimate representation of radical, sacrificial love, the communion table. And we looked forward to our work of living into these final two Beatitudes with our three kingdom practices.
1. Prayer of surrender – This week, let’s continue to ask the Holy Spirit to lead us in sacrificial love. If it is helpful, use your hands. Imagine the cost of loving radically, the thing you struggle to surrender, is resting in your hands. Clench your fists. Pray over the thing you are clinging to, and as a physical representation of your desire to surrender open your hands.
2. Love your enemies – Make time this week to write a list of people who you consider enemies. Commit to pray daily for each of them, and find one tangible act of love to perform for someone on your list.
3. Defend the oppressed – Find one way these next two weeks to stand in solidarity with a marginalized group of people. You might write a letter to elected representatives, use social media to create awareness about an issue of justice, or participate in a peaceful demonstration.
As this is the final recap of our time in the Beatitudes, let me share Curtis’ beautiful benediction based on the Beatitudes.
May you know deeply that you have enough and that you are enough
as you live the way of trust.
May you know comfort in your grief
as you live the way of lament.
May you experience fully your status as a beloved child of God
as you live the way of humility.
May you feel your power
as you join with God to live the way of justice.
May you see everyone you meet through lenses of mercy
as you live the way of compassion.
May you drop your masks and be who God made you to be
as you live the way of right motive.
May you build bridges of reconciliation
as you live the way of peacemaking.
May you be transformed through surrender
as you live the way of sacrifice.
May you look for opportunities to follow Jesus
in the way of radical love.