St Peter & St Paul's Newsletter - February 2022

Letter from Revd Helen Burnett.

This short month gifts us 4 Sundays before Lent begins. In the church calendar, this could easily be ‘in between time’ or even ‘dead time’ as we shift from a season of celebration to a penitential period following the adult Christ through his ministry to the cross and resurrection.

On these Sundays we will be reading through the middle section of Luke’s gospel in which the apostle lays out the core principles of Jesus teaching including, perhaps the most important of part all his teaching – the sermon on the mount.

This core teaching comes soon after Jesus has proclaimed that he fulfils the prophetic words of Isaiah – his mission is to…

  • bring good news to the poor
  • release the captive
  • recover sight to the blind
  • free the oppressed

In the sermon on the mount Jesus expands upon his vocation and teaching, and gifts us the beatitudes – beats by which we should live our lives.

Eight simple statements in which we are offered a new way to be human. Four beats in which we are called to understand blessing as dying to self and that in selflessness we find blessing for ourselves through service to others. Then four further beats that in many translations begin ‘woe to you’ and warn of the trap of selfishness. Here is how they are translated in ‘The Message’ bible.

Blessings
You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.
You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.

“Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this”.

Give Away Your Life
But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made.
What you have is all you’ll ever get.
And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself.
Yourself will not satisfy you for long.
And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games.
There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it.

There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.

I hope we can make this ‘in between’ month of February a time of creativity and new hope as, together, in the spirit of the beatitudes we respond to the needs of our planet and its people.

As you read on through this newsletter for this brief month of February you will see many ways in which we, as a church community are trying, in our small way to walk to the beat of the drum that Jesus gives us.