In my bible study, we’re currently studying the Sermon on the Mount. We’ve spent the last two weeks looking at just the Beatitudes. Most people would recognise them: they are a dozen lines or so all starting with “Blessed are the …”
I have a perspective my fellow studiers don’t really know about and wouldn’t share if they did. This was obvious to me when looking at the first one: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” What is not hugely obvious is that this verse is in the present tense. When I pointed this out, the resistance was easily apparant from at least one other member in the study. He firmly believes that this is all about the ‘Kingdom to come’, that is, in heaven. But I prefer reading it in the present tense.
We got to the other end of them tonight. The last one is much the same, and is also in the present tense. It bookends the sayings nicely, reminding you that they are supposed to be read as a set. The intervening blessings all describe things that are yet to come. No reason to believe they are going to be the other side of death, of course. But putting them all together and you get two things: a description of the sort of bottom-of-the-social-ladder people Jesus ministered directly to, and a plausible description of what a follower of Jesus should look like.
Uhoh. There’s that “Christian guilt” rearing it’s head again. I held my tongue about that, of course. That was a tangent we truly didn’t have time for. Of course, I also saw the description could apply in large measure to a Wiccan. And no, I was not stupid enough to say that!
But I could not avoid leaving hints that all is not as it was in my beliefs. My study group knows I am on a spiritual “journey” and they know I believe it is sanctioned by God and they can probably see I am learning and changing, too.
And being blessed by it.