Perhaps many of us come to church each week, unaware that we are part of a bigger picture? The Church of England (just in the UK) has 16,000 churches and 42 cathedrals and all of these will have some form of service each Sunday. Imagine all those people joining together in prayer towards a common goal – it’s a powerful image!
In our little corner of England, Stoke Poges Parish is part of the Deanery of Burnham and Slough, in the Buckingham Area of the Diocese of Oxford, led by Bishop Steven Croft.
Bishop Steven has written a 3-part course, Exploring the Beatitudes, a three session course for small groups across the Diocese of Oxford. He says:
‘I’m hoping churches will use this specially written resource to help them study and understand the Beatitudes. For me the Beatitudes have eight beautiful qualities, but eight is quite a lot to remember so I’ve been keen to capture what they mean in three words: contemplative, compassionate and courageous. ‘I want people to be asking what do these words teach us and tell us about Jesus, what do they tell us about being human in the 21st century and what do they tell us about what kind of Church we’re called to be.’
It sounds like a tricky job, to develop study materials, relevant to this distracted and multi-tasking age, enabling small groups of us to lead ourselves in a deeper understanding of God’s word, so it’s great to have something designed especially for this corner of the world.
As well as TJ running this course with two groups over the last few weeks (plus or minus snow days!), each of our Life Groups have decided to take up this challenge this term. That means a good proportion of our congregations will have heard and discussed the same material – what will you make of it? Do send me your comments (to firstname.lastname@example.org) as the experience unfolds and I’ll collate them for a future post.
For more opportunities to join in small group studies, look out for our Lent course, to be advertised around the churches soon.
What are the Beatitudes? You’ll know them when you hear them… the blessings listed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapter 5: Verses 3–11.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”