Monthly Talking Point – January 2018

This month’s edition is provided by
Penny Cuthbert

New Year’s resolutions….have you made any? Lots of us begin a new year resolving to exercise more, drink less, eat more healthily, get out of debt, spend more time with family, take up a new hobby, be less stressed…..the list goes on. Success requires a change in habits. I’m told it takes six weeks to form a new habit, so if you can just push through the pain for a few more weeks you could be on the way to a new lifestyle!

What about spiritual resolutions – have you made any of those? To pray more? Read the Bible more? Go to church more? To love your neighbour more? All worthy ideals, and yet……is there something missing? Is a ‘must try harder’ ethic a healthy one, or does it lead us into law rather than grace, religion rather than relationship?

In recent weeks the Bishop of Oxford has been encouraging us to listen deeply to the Beatitudes – the verses at the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that begin “Blessed are the poor in spirit……” He suggests that by focussing on these verses, dwelling in them, we might just discover a fresh vision of Jesus that will inspire us both individually and corporately, and lead us to become more contemplative, more compassionate and more courageous – in a nutshell, more Christ-like.

The Beatitudes are a self-portrait of Jesus – we see how he lived them out on every page of the gospels, and they challenge us, as his disciples, to live a radically counter-cultural life: a surrendered life that is utterly dependent on God; a life of humility, of lament over the brokenness of our world, of longing for justice; a life marked by forgiveness, mercy, purity of heart, reconciling grace, perseverance in the cause of good even in the face of opposition. A life like the one Jesus lived.

Becoming more Christ-like… that’s something worth aspiring to.

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 5:1-10)

Penny Cuthbert, Transition Minister,
St John the Baptist, Caversham