I found-out that the word “Kingdom” is mentioned over 100 times in the first four books of the New Testament in the Bible!! What is this Kingdom that Jesus is talking about and what’s my place in it? Well, it’s a totally different and up sided-down kingdom. Our focus Bible story for this Sunday is in Matthew 5:1-12. Jesus’ words in this section of the Sermon on the Mount can give young people permission to live what they already are. In this beautiful vision, Jesus turned upside down the world’s idea of happiness. We will try to make sense of this vision and help our children and youth to discover the things that bring true happiness. Jesus teaches that the blessed (happy) ones are those who are humble of heart (“poor in spirit”), who are gentle, who show mercy, who are persecuted, hunger and thirst for God’s ways. Blessed are those who suffer because they will be comforted and those who work for peace and justice will be called God’s family.
Matthew writes from a context where the temple has been destroyed, the people is scattered and Jesus is no longer with them. The new Christians are in times of distress and uncertainty about their future. They were trying to live and relate to one another in a way that was very different from the way of the Roman world around them. What is the good news for those trying to be faithful Christians in a hostile world?
Our experience today is, in many ways, like that of Matthew’s community. We may not be persecuted for our faith, but the “Beatitudes” seem foolish compared with the values of our society today: blessed are the rich, blessed are those with good healthcare and retirement plans, blessed are the powerful and popular, and blessed are the young and the good looking. Although peer approval is not that important for our youth, they can be persuaded by savvy advertisers and by peers that happiness comes from material possessions such as brand-name clothing or electronics. The pressure to be part of the “best” is not limited to athletics. Top performance is also expected in academics, the arts, even extracurricular activities, bringing sometimes feelings of disappointment and frustration. How can our young people use their faith and emerging abilities to bring about God’s dream in the present in tangible and life-giving ways?
All children and youth are welcome to join us for Bible story time and activities on the 2nd floor after the time of conversation with the pastor in worship. Childcare is available for children 4 and under on the 2nd floor as well.