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Micah 6.1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1.18-31; Matthew 5.1-12

Explore and respond

Adult & All Age

Explore and respond

A sequence of active worship ideas; individual items can stand alone.

Ideas for a sermon or interactive talk

See also Thought for the week to read out in place of a sermon; and 'The week in focus', linking the readings to the news. 

  • What ideas do you associate with the word powerful? Or meek? Is one positive and the other negative? Or do they both have  downsides? The powerful do not get a mention in the Beatitudes, though people who are strong enough to be peacemakers, to hunger  and thirst for goodness and to endure persecution, do. The word translated as ‘meek’ suggests the quality of not being overly impressed  by a sense of one’s own importance. Far from being timid and intimidated, being meek is the proactive quality of being gentle, humble and courteous. This challenges our world of power-dressing and put-downs, but it is truly the way to inherit the earth.

  • The Micah passage suggests a trio of attitudes that would lead to daily faithful actions. The Beatitudes mention eight qualities or  commitments that overlap with these three and expand upon them. If we look at contemporary events – e.g. through a trawl of the  week’s newspapers – can we find outstanding examples of people living out these positive qualities. (If you have time to do the trawling, you could perhaps explore each beatitude though such a story.)

  • The Beatitudes offer optimism, both for life now and for our eternal future, with blessings related to right actions, attitudes and  responses in dealing with whatever comes our way. Jesus’ words link our behaviour towards others and our relationship with God.  Indeed, within all of this week’s readings there are positive affirmations of the value of seeking to grow towards God’s holiness. Our goal is to be the sort of person described in Micah 6.8. In a church where a funeral was being held there were three banners on the wall,  saying in turn: ‘Do justice’, ‘Love kindness’, and ‘Walk humbly with your God’. The friends of the man whose life was being celebrated  that day knew, even before they heard any address, that those words described his life very well. Might the same be said of us?

  • ‘Blessed are those who ...’, says Jesus to his disciples – and to us. How are we blessed? Does God bless us by a wave of his divine hand?  ‘To bless’ is sometimes seen as a wish for something good, a favour, happiness for another. But blessing in the Beatitudes is  something present, something ‘now’ – blessed are, not blessed will be. We are blessed as we live with each other, in and through all of  life’s challenges, striving always to be a blessing to others. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the many hymns and songs in which  we ‘bless the Lord’. The Lord already has all he needs! We live in blessing when our lives are pleasing to God.


Thought for the week

Read out in place of a sermon if you wish

A month into a new year, what are our expectations for the year ahead and, indeed, the years beyond that? We know from recent experience that events beyond our control can change all our plans. 

The words of Jesus that we call ‘the Beatitudes’ offer us optimism, both for the long-term and more immediately, with blessings related to right actions, attitudes and responses in dealing with whatever comes our way in this world. Jesus’ words link our behaviour towards others and our relationship with God. Indeed, within all of this week’s readings there are positive affirmations of the value of our seeking to grow towards God’s holiness, and towards a goal of being the sort of person described by Micah. In a church where a funeral was being held there were three banners on the walls, with these simple statements: ‘Do justice’, ‘Love kindness’ and ‘Walk humbly with your God’. The friends of the man whose life was being celebrated that day knew that even before they heard any homily these words described his life very well. 

In the Gospel passage are several words for which we probably know the meaning more instinctively than by definition, or where modern usage is a little different. How would you explain to someone outside a church context the meaning of mercy, meekness, humility or sacrifice? In many contemporary circumstances these would all be seen as weaknesses. And yet, if we look, we will find examples where (for example) an athlete risks their own victory to help a colleague – a competitor – across the finish line. The question, or rather the challenge, is whether we live such values or qualities in our lives, every day, in every situation where they are called for. 

Of course, Jesus’ list of blessings is a set of examples not a definitive list. Jesus’ teaching as a whole takes us a bit closer; and his sacrificial life and example closer still. All of it is an unpacking of the new commandment he gave us: love as I have loved you.


All age act of worship Session

Active worship

Blessed if…

Explore what the Beatitudes mean in practice.

You will need: 16 small cards each with either a question or its answer on it. Here are some examples of a question and its answer:

Are you aware of your spiritual needs?                  Seek out the kingdom of heaven.

Do you mourn, or have regrets?                             Ask God to comfort you.

Are you meek before God and others?                  Be strong in your reliance on God.

Do you long for righteousness in the world?          Be filled with a passion for justice.

Are you merciful to others?                                     Accept God’s love and mercy for yourself.

Do you strive to be pure in heart?                          Look for God in the world.

Are you a peacemaker?                                          Share love with all God’s children.

Are you persecuted for your faith?                          Hold fast to the kingdom of heaven.

  • The list of Beatitudes are not statements about other people, but an encouragement to us all to act. With that in mind, this simple activity turns them round to  emphasise the point.
  • Give out the cards randomly. Invite someone with a question to read it aloud. Drawing on the original Beatitudes – looking them up in pew Bibles, etc., if  necessary – the person who thinks they have the answer to that question should read it out. You could invite everyone else to indicate if they agree that the correct answer had been chosen. Repeat this with all the questions. It should become apparent that some questions and answers overlap.
    W E A


Group discussion

Consider the merits of darkness and light.

  • While it always seems natural to strive for the light, to hope and work for better times, ask if people can think of examples in which darkness or darker times  have had a positive impact on life and growth.
  • A couple of simple examples to get things going: Did anyone have a poinsettia plant for Christmas – is it still red? Did you know that if you want it to re-flower  next year, you must hide it in complete darkness every night from October to December? Or, what do you know about growing rhubarb? It loves its roots to be in manure and grows very well in near darkness!
  • Now, can anyone think on any real human example?
    W E


Modern messages

Creating an accessible call to holiness.

  • Micah’s three-part rule for life (6.8) and Jesus’ more lengthy guidelines recorded by Matthew (5.1-10) are solid advice about the sort of people we are to be as  we walk with God, even in darker times. In this age of snappy slogans and memorable images, memes can be a light-hearted shorthand (if you are not sure what memes are, do an internet search for ‘meme examples’ – they often comprise an image and a slogan).
  • Invite people, in small groups, to design/create a meme to get across Micah’s message about what God requires of us.
    S A


A simple worship activity

Share blessings.

  • Ask: Do you feel blessed? Invite people to share ways in which they have recently been or felt blessed. We can also be a blessing to each other. Again, invite  people to share recent personal stories and examples.
  • Namaste is an Indian non-contact blessing or greeting, made with hands pressed together in front of you as you gently bow to another person. It symbolises the  idea that ‘The God in me bows to the God in you’. Encourage everyone to bless each other in this way. You could, at the same time, say ‘Peace be with you’ or ‘The peace of Christ’ or similar. Then read Psalm 15 and sing or play the Taizé song, ‘Bless the Lord, my Soul’ or ‘Bless the Lord oh my Soul’ by Matt Redman.
    W E S




Activity sheet



Spiritual styles abbreviations
W Word E Emotion S Symbol A Action
Read our Spiritual Styles articles

Children & Youth

Explore and respond

Activities marked with an asterisk  next to the activity title are in addition to the resources in the Ready to go sessions. Suggested timings for these activities are also shown. NB The inclusion of additional activities varies from week to week.



Very young childrens Session

Growing rhythm

Explore growth in difficult times

Stand together and invite everyone to curl up in a small ball. Bang a drum or clap a rhythm and encourage the children to slowly reach up and grow tall as you do. Repeat this saying: 'Even in the difficult times God is with us and we can grow with him'.


Rich soil

Make a symbol of growing with God

Provide small plant pots, soil and bulbs. Half fill the pot, add the bulb and then hide the bulb away in the soil. As you do, talk about how the bulb, hidden away in the dark soil, will be growing until it is ready to poke through and flower.


Very young childrens Session



Childrens Session

Joy jars E S

Create a bank of positive memories, photos or verses

You will need: empty jam jars, coloured tissue paper, glue, coloured pens, small pieces of paper.

  • Make ‘joy jars’ by gluing tissue paper to the outside of a jar and decorating it. Invite the children to write or draw things that give them joy in difficult times, e.g. things they have enjoyed, memories, verses. Add these to the jar. They could also add photos when they take their jar home.
  • The children can take out their memories and look at them when things are difficult.




'Up Times, Down Times' - FREE! download(s) from Same Boat Music.

Find more suggestions on the Hymns, songs & music page.



Childrens Session

Talk together and talk to God

Use these questions to discuss the Bible passage and then bring your thoughts together by praying to God.

Talk together

  • Can you think of a time recently when you were kind and tried to help others?
  • Have there been times when you have needed God’s help because things were difficult?
  • How could you support your friends if they had a disagreement?


Talk to God: It’s good to share  E S

Bring difficult things to God in prayer

You will need: coloured paper with a speech bubble drawn on for each child, pens.

  • Encourage the children to reflect on the things they find difficult and then write them in the bubble. They can then fold their paper in half so that no one can see them.
  • Invite the children to spend some time in quiet prayer or reflection. The leader should pray in general for the things written and unknown. The children can take their paper home and continue to talk with God and people they trust about difficult times. 



Very young childrens Session
Childrens Session

Activity sheet


Scratch art  S

Make a symbol of good things coming out of darkness 

You will need: A5 scratch art cards, or make your own ahead of time, toothpicks or similar.

  • Invite the children to write their name on their scratch art card. The beautiful colours will shine through the dark. Talk about God’s promise to give good things in difficult times. 


Missing word quiz 5 mins W

Recall the blessings that God gives

  • Form two teams. Ask everyone to crouch down. Read out the Beatitudes, missing out the word in the bracket (see below). The first person to jump up can answer. If correct, their team wins one point; if not, offer it to the other team.

Blessed are those who realise how much they need God’s help, for the kingdom of (heaven) belongs to them.
Blessed are those who are sad because of a death, for they will be (comforted)
Blessed are the (gentle) and humble, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and (thirst) for goodness and justice, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive (mercy)
Blessed are the pure in (heart), for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called (children) of God.
Blessed are those who are made to suffer for the sake of goodness, for the kingdom of (heaven) belongs to them.



Young people Session

Be…attitude 10 mins W E

Discuss how we can grow when things are difficult

You will need: bowl, prepared paper tokens (see for Unfair questions game instructions below).

  • Play the Unfair questions game. Afterwards, ask the young people on a scale of 1-10 how frustrating was it when the team  got more points than you?
  • Life isn’t always fair, sometimes it can be very hard. Discuss: How can living out the beatitudes help us grow as individuals?

Unfair questions game instructions

  1. In a bowl put pieces of paper with the numbers 1-10 written on them plus a strip of paper that says -5 (minus five).
  2. Divide the group into teams and then take it in turns to ask them trivia questions (examples).
  3. When a team gets a right answer, a member come up, closes their eyes, and takes out a score from the bowl. That number is either added onto their score or, in the case of the -5, taken away. That means that two teams getting the same number of answers right could end up with different scores.
  4. Play a set number of rounds and then add the scores up.


Easy or hard? 10 mins W E

Explore living out values in darker times

You will need: information that you can briefly share about inspirational people,
e.g. Nelson Mandela, Gordon Wilson, Desmond Tutu, Corrie Ten Boom.

  • Ask for examples of inspirational people. How did these people live out the Beatitudes even when it was tough? Share an example that will resonate with the group.
  • Invite the young people to think about their lives and list places/times it might be easy to live out the Beatitudes and places/times when it is tough. Ask: What might the inspirational person advise in these tough times?

Light in darkness 5 mins W S

Thank God for blessings in dark times

You will need: pots of fluorescent paint, labels, black card.

  • Label the paint pots with the Beatitudes verses on them and display these. Give each young person a square of black card.
  • Ask everyone to paint the words of their favourite beatitude onto their card as a reminder that, even during dark times, walking with God is a blessing. Offer these thoughts in prayer.
  •  Play ‘Walk Humbly’ (video; chords), Trent, on Unfailing Love during this activity.


Check-inConnecting faith with everyday, real-life issues



 Big picture  10 mins W E S

A collage celebrating the beauty of the Beatitudes

You will need: cardboard and art supplies.

  • Place a big piece of cardboard on the ground. Give everyone a different beatitude and ask them to create something on the cardboard that represents their assigned Beatitude.
  • Explain how the beatitudes, taken together, show how God wants us to live. What are those principles? Micah 6.8 is worth reading at this point.


 Drama:  What’s your be-attitude?


Spiritual styles abbreviations
W Word E Emotion S Symbol A Action
Read our Spiritual Styles articles
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NEW! drama: What’s your be-attitude?

A drama for 4 people

This TV-like drama considers the traits and characteristics that are desired and valued by our faith and by the society we inhabit.

While we can be easily influenced by others about what is worthy or ‘cool’, Jesus’ teaching shines a light on different attitudes of honesty, justice and humility. We find that those who may feel underserving of God’s love or who are experiencing darker times are blessed unconditionally.

The main character Joe is struggling for reasons we don’t quite know, but it is only when he reaches the conundrum in the competition that he realises he is set free from his hardships and, despite being at breaking point, he only wants peace for everyone else.

The actors choose a point of reference for an imaginary camera throughout.

Host: That number again 600-100-100. Call now or text on 1234 to vote for your favourite contestant. A reminder of our contestants:

We have the wonderfully successful and beautiful Chantelle (Chantelle waves to camera).

We have Joe, who has tried his best for this series, but he’s not quite earned enough points to be at the top (aside to camera). Maybe next time he’ll leave his problems at the door. Ha! (slaps Joe on the back).

And we have Ameena, the nation’s favourite! Her skills are exceptional and she’s won the heart of thousands! (Ameena gives the camera a thumbs-up).

It’s up to you, the audience, to vote as to who you think should win this series and the ultimate prize!

First of all, let’s check in with Chantelle. Chantelle: how are you feeling?!

Chantelle: Hi, hi, yeah, yeah, I’m feeling pretty good, pretty calm. Done some yoga, had some detoxifying juice and finding it helpful to repeat to myself ‘my body is a temple, my body is a temple’. I hope people at home and out there can see how important this is to me and how I deserve to be the series’ winner (she blows a kiss to the camera).

Host: Thank you, Chantelle! OK, next we have Joe. Joe, obviously you must be disappointed with how things have turned out for you. Is there anything you want to say to maybe change the minds of our lovely audience?

Joe: Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you. Thanks for giving me this opportunity and to everyone at home. I’ve not been deserving of this opportunity, and I haven’t spent any time with my family. I’ve hurt my wife’s feelings to get here, and I think that maybe I am really tired and it’s showing.

Host: Yeah ha! You don’t look great, Joe! I’ve just been told in my ear that you’re one of our poorest performing contestants we’ve ever had. How does that make you feel?

Joe: Pretty pants to be honest! I’m sorry I’ve let people down when, at the start, so many put their faith in me…and it’s been hard, the competition has been hard and I understand why the other contestants are frustrated with me, too. I see that now. I feel like I’ve been going through the motions to get here. I’ve not had time to realise how, how…lonely I’ve been.

Host: Woah there now, Joe. Ha! (pulls a face at the camera) Let’s not get all emotional for our lovely audience! They want a happy winner, remember! Hap-py! We like positive thinking. We all love positive thinkers, don’t we everyone?! (Host encourages congregation to cheer). I’m going to move on now to our final contestant, the incredible Ameena! Ameena, have you done enough to clinch the deal and take home the ultimate prize?

Ameena: YES! Do I sound cocky saying that?! Sorry, not sorry! Not going to apologise for myself! I was born to this! I’ve worked hard for all my life for THIS MOMENT! Argghh, so excited! I am so pumped!

Host: Great confidence Ameena! You’re already talking like a winner! Excellent!

OK, so the contestants have done all they can now. They have slogged for weeks (years for some it would seem!) to get to this point, and now it is over to you to choose your winner! Will it be Chantelle – beautiful, healthy, an inspiration for us all!

Then we have Joe – does he represent enough for you at home? Our nation? He says he’s already a winner! I quote ‘I actually am happy to walk away now…I have everything I need in life’. Or will you vote for Ameena, her past successes go before her, she really seems to have everything on her side.

(Host improvises with the audience, charming them, getting them to practise their cheers and their pitying ‘awwwss’).

The votes are in, and I can confirm we have our winner, ladies and gentlemen! You, our nation, have voted forrrrrrrrrr (overly long pause)…AMEENA!

Joe: Woooohooooooo! YES! YES! YES! (jumps up and down and runs around, fist pumping the air).

Host: (confused) Err, sorry Joe, I said the winner is Ameena.

Joe: YES, AMEENA! You have great things to come, laid out in front of you, wonderful things! I am happy for you, for you too Chantelle! (Chantelle is crying watching Ameena blowing kisses out to the congregation). And YOU (Joe embraces Host), don’t you feel that relief? That relief knowing that this is over, you don’t have to pretend any more, you can go home and put on your pyjama bottoms and eat chocolate in bed, knowing that no one is watching you anymore! You are okay. I am okay. We are all okay. God will never leave us.

Host smiles to the camera and shrugs bemusedly.

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