Change text size: A A A Change contrast: Normal Dark Light
Related Bible reading(s): Matthew 5.1-12

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
General information and website help
020 3887 8916
Roots for Churches Ltd
86 Tavistock Place
Registered Charity No. 1097466. Registered Company No. 04346069. Registered in England.
Subscription services
020 3887 8916
Roots for Churches Ltd
Unit 12, Branbridges Industrial Estate,
East Peckham TN12 5HF
Stay in touch
The ROOTS ecumenical partnership
Bringing together Churches and other Christian organisations since 2002
© Copyright 2002-2024, Roots for Churches Ltd. All rights reserved. Print ISSN: 2040-4832 and 2635-280X; Online ISSN: 2635-2818.
This resource is taken from and is copyright © 2002-2024 ROOTS for Churches.