As long as I can remember, I have loved stories. Listening, reading, writing, acting out, and watching stories has been an important part of my life. After a really evocative one, I will often embellish it or continue it in my thoughts, composing and filtering it through my imagination and senses. I’ve done this often with Matthew’s gospel story of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
This Sunday, we’ll read the part that is known as The Beatitudes, or Blessings (Matt 5:1-11). The whole sermon contains Jesus’ new description of God’s character in people. This was early in the launch and the axis of Jesus’ ministry and has continued to define the content of Christian character, and serve as a compass for our ongoing discipleship. With the children, we’ll ask them to allow their imaginations to create the scene on the mountain, to witness individual people in the crowd in their mind’s eye; the rich and the poor, the happy and the sad, etc.
“So does God love poor, or sad, or lonely, or hungry, or bullied people…more?” “If I’m not, or don’t want to be those things, will God still love me?” Children have asked these questions before. Mom, Dad; how would you answer them? If you’re unsure, perhaps you could join them in their imaginations. Close your eyes. Hear Jesus’ blessings. Oh, do you see the elderly woman over there, sitting all by herself? She’s weeping. Is she sad? Or wait, now she’s smiling! “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. Look, a little child noticed her and he’s bringing her a flower. The child’s mom is coming over now. She looks concerned…What happens next? You decide. How will you author your story?
Speaking of good story-tellers, J.K. Rowling spoke about one’s imagination as a gateway to empathy and compassion in a Harvard commencement address.(circa the 11 min. mark).