A journey back to reality. It’s something most of us could use, what with the competing scripts and distortions and narratives and lies that swirl around us, telling us who we should be and what we should strive for and what we should buy to get there. It’s enough to drive us to the end of sanity trying to keep up with the latest and greatest plan for self-fulfillment.
But then Jesus offers us a vision that’s, if anything, less sane. We’ve grown up with certain narratives that tell us who is ‘blessed’, who is living the good life, who has it all together, and it sure isn’t the poor, the mourners, or the meek.
And yet, that’s the message our liturgy spoke this week. We started by reflecting on the paradox of the beatitudes (are the unhappy really happy?). Then we moved to a time of praying for our enemies (what rational person does that?). Then we used the story of the prodigal son to help us connect to the ways we too need to come to our senses and return home to the reality of God’s grace and mercy.
And then, Mark Scandrette (“The Godfather” as Aaron has dubbed him), came to help us think about the way of Jesus, and how the Beatitudes, as crazy as they might sound on first pass, might actually offer us a path through the false scripts that bombard us, and back to the Kingdom that is truly real. Take a listen to his words here…
The Beatitudes offer us an outline of the curriculum of discipleship. They name our deep aches and longings, and communicate to us the reality that God’s blessing is with us even in the midst of suffering. They name the illusions and distortions in the world around us that lead to systems of oppression and despair. The give us a template for the journey back to God’s reality, the steps of healing and recovery that will free us to be the people God invites us to be. They are not a list of ‘shoulds’, but instead awaken us to reality, and invite us to live in accordance with that reality (instead of living according to what is false).
This journey back to reality culminates in a call to radical love, to (paradoxically) give up one’s life in order to find true life. The way in which the NINE BEATS fly directly in the face of the false narratives we’ve been steeping in our whole lives is most clearly seen here: death leads to life. But the way of Jesus is the way of the Cross, crazy as it may seem, and so we came to the table to celebrate Jesus’ radical, self-sacrificial love for us.
So maybe following the NINE BEATS, the way of Jesus, is crazy. Or maybe it’s the only way to see reality clearly. We hope you join us on the journey this Fall to find out. This week, Jason challenged us to do three things:
1) Pray through the NINE BEATS each day with the corresponding motions (Download the NINE BEATS Handout),
2) Reflect on which of the NINE most resonates and which creates the most resistance in us
3) (for the crazy among us) Memorize the Beatitudes to truly internalize their call.
Grace and peace this week,
Curtis and The Practice Team