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Contentedness spiritual key to get NI through challenging times of coronavirus and politics

Rev Steve Stockman


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'So, as we look ahead to the American election on Tuesday, what more subversive words could you speak in than those original poetic words of Jesus's Beatitudes' (AP)

'So, as we look ahead to the American election on Tuesday, what more subversive words could you speak in than those original poetic words of Jesus's Beatitudes' (AP)

'So, as we look ahead to the American election on Tuesday, what more subversive words could you speak in than those original poetic words of Jesus's Beatitudes' (AP)

Blessed are the arrogant

For there is the kingdom of their own company

Blessed are the superstars

For the magnificence in their light

We understand better our own insignificance

Blessed are the filthy rich

For you can only truly own what you give away

Like your pain

Blessed are the bullies

For one day they will have to stand up to themselves

Blessed are the liars

For the truth can be awkward

These are the modern Beatitudes recited in a prophetically ironic way by Kendrick Lemar linking two songs, Get Out Of Your Own Way and American Soul, on U2's last record, Songs Of Experience. They tell it how the world is.

So, as we look ahead to the American election on Tuesday, what more subversive words could you speak in than those original poetic words of Jesus's Beatitudes:

"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.

These pithy phrases are not the kind of refrains that advertisers use in the world's capitol of capitalism. In a world where we sell blessed as the right of the wealthy, the happy and the successful, these are strange words.

Jesus shares the Beatitudes just as he commenced his revolution. Another kingdom has arrived with another way to live.

Repent, he preached, calling the world to this different rule, this upside down life that seems the wrong way round, but is actually the right way up of how humans were designed to live.

If only Americans - and, indeed, us all - took such Beatitudes into the polling station.

For this weekend, though, let us look at these Beatitudes in the light of our coronavirus world.

Here is the way that theologian Eugene Peterson translates the Beatitudes in The Message, his paraphrase of the Bible:

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God and his rule.

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought."

In these past months, we might well have found ourselves at the end of our rope. Peterson suggests that that is a place where we can spiritually find God.

Many of us have felt that we have lost an awful lot since March. Peterson suggests that losing the things of this Earth might draw us to finding a God who is worth more than all of this stuff.

Contentedness with ourselves and not our circumstances has become a spiritual key to get us through these challenging times.

A study of Jesus' Beatitudes reveals two things. Jesus words demand a change in our attitudes deep down in the soul's home of our ambition and desires.

Yet, Jesus is also pointing to the place of peace and calm and residence and hope. Here is where blessedness is. Not where the world looks. Where Jesus tells us we can find it ... and where He leads us to.

Rev Steve Stockman is minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, Belfast

Apt Bible readings

Some Scripture suggestions for the week ahead:

Monday: Psalm 1

Tuesday: Matthew 5:1-12 (NIV)

Wednesday: Matthew 5:1-12 (The Message)

Thursday: Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

Friday: Matthew 6:25-34 (The Message)

Belfast Telegraph


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