Family Talk Time: The Beatitudes, part 2

Stone stairs with the Beatitudes carved on the risers

Ready for more questions to discuss the Beatitudes? Catch up if you need to, at part one. Remember, I’m not saying you should try to do these all at once! Bookmark this page and come back. OK?

open bibleOpen up a Bible to the New Testament, Matthew, chapter 5. Read verses 3-10. Or, read them a verse at a time and discuss using the questions below.

Verse 6: hunger and thirst for righteousness
  • That seems obvious. Those who put working for justice before their own hunger and thirst… they will be filled. But what can kids do? How about bringing some canned food to the First Sunday Food Drive? Overcoming poverty is a justice issue.
  • Here’s another way to think of this one: It is hard for us to relate to hunger and thirst. (Food and water are always available!) What about other thirsts – social and emotional? If Jesus promises that we will be filled, are we looking for gratification in the wrong places?
  • Not to say that you always have to be pursuing justice….but if you aren’t working on matters of equity, where are you focusing your energy?
God blesses those people who want to obey him, more than to eat or drink.

Stop if you want to or… carry on.

Verse 7: Blessed are the merciful
  • Webster’s dictionary defines mercy as “kindness in excess of what is expected; kind or compassionate treatment; the power to forgive.” Have you ever received mercy from someone? How did you respond
  • How about forgiveness, ever been forgiven by someone?
  • How can we show mercy to those in our family? (By being patient and kindhearted.)
  • To show us how to acquire this Beatitude, God sent Jesus who lived among us, saw things with his own eyes, and felt the things we do. If Jesus can forgive his tormentors from the cross should we do less?
    (I know, these questions are hard!)
Verse 8: Pure in heart
  • Unblemished, perfect, flawless – these are the words that come to mind when one thinks of “pure.” Heart means “the center of a person’s being, where thoughts, intentions, and motivation find their origin.” (A quote from the book Become What You Are by William W. Klein).
    How do you strive to be pure at heart? (Trying to focus on following God would be one way; which could take a lifetime of work!) Where is your focus? Is it on computer games or having “stuff?”
  • How does our culture work against trying to be pure at heart?
  • How about seeing God… Jesus didn’t just mean “in heaven!” When we are focused on God, we catch glimpses of God at work in this world. Think of a time when you have been focused on God. How did you see God at work?
    (Decide that everyone will record their God sightings and share them the next time you are together.)
Verse 9: Blessed are the peacemakers
  • How have you been a peacemaker?
  • Are there any family conflicts that need your efforts? How about at school? Or at church? What about struggles you may have within yourself – do you need peace?
  • What is a first step you could take to being a bridge builder?
Simple choices in our daily lives can allow us to practice peacemaking: Smiling, offering assistance, or letting someone else get ahead of you in line.
Verse 10: Persecuted because of righteousness
  • Have you ever been teased for doing the right thing, or for not going along with the crowd?

Don’t panic if you feel that you can’t live up to what Jesus expects of us! We are blessed because Jesus wants to be our friend and wants us to commit to living as his disciples.


Photo credits:
Stone steps with the Beatitudes by James Emery, who licensed this photo on Flickr under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).
Clip art from is in the Public Domain.

Next Sunday, go on a “field trip”

students self-potraits

'Now when he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him.   Matthew 5:1


6th graders tack up people at the Sermon on the MountThis Sunday you are invited to have your children escort you to the bulletin board outside of the nursery, where they will proudly show you their self-portrait (in the crowd) at our rendition of the Sermon on the Mount.

(Okay, so since this was published 7 years ago, don’t be looking for anything this Sunday!)

Kids in grades one through six have been using their imaginations on Sunday mornings at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI. The students have all visited the Art Workshop, creating pictures for our mural.

The unique feature?

They have climbed the mountain and have placed themselves in attendance, hearing Jesus speak.

Ask them what they’ve learned about the Beatitudes.

What about you?
What are you learning as you hear Jesus’ words?

I told the sixth graders (pictured, above right) as they helped to put up the self-portraits, that there was something wrong with this mural. And they knew what it was!

Do you? (Hint: Look at the top photo and read Matthew 5:1)


Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives.

Family Talk: The Beatitudes

Students hold signs with the Beatitudes written on them

Dinner PlateIt is time once again for a little “table talk.” You know, questions that you can ask with your family, around the dinner table or in the car on the way to sports practice.   Don’t try to do these all at once. And don’t think that only older kids can answer these types of questions!

Here’s the way to start this off…

  • We say that being compassionate or responsible makes a “good person.” What other characteristics do you suppose it would be good to have?
  • What about contentment – being truly happy, would that be a good quality to have? (there are no right or wrong answers to some of these questions!)
  • How about being determined – you want to get something done!
  • What if what you want to get done, or what makes you happy, hurts other people?
Wow, we really have to pay attention to our character!

Jesus taught us in the Beatitudes, some qualities that God wants to see in us. Let’s take a look.

open bibleOpen up a Bible to the New Testament, Matthew, chapter 5. Read verses 3-10. Or, read them a verse at a time and discuss using the questions below.

Beatitude #1 (verse 3): Blessed are the poor in spirt…

  • What does “Poor in Spirit” mean? (How lost you are without God! It may help to think of what the opposite of poor in spirit looks like: proud, an “I can do it all by myself” attitude.)
  • Someone with this Beatitude in their make-up is dependant on God and puts their whole trust in God. How do we put our whole trust in God?
  • Do you suppose that means we accept that sometimes bad things will happen to us but that God will help us and comfort us?
  • What makes you aware that you depend on God?
  • How have you been blessed by recognizing your spiritual bankruptcy?
Without God, our life would be empty!

This would be a good place to stop for one day. Come back to finish up. (But please continue on if conversation is going good.)

Beatitude #2 (verse 4): Blessed are those who mourn…

  • What does mourn mean? (Someone who is mourning is very sad. The opposite: happy at any cost.)
  • People who mourn, find comfort? Do we honestly see ourselves as “blessed” when bad things happen? (Maybe we need to mourn to find God’s comfort.)
  • What does God’s comfort feel/look like?
  • When he talked about those who mourn, Jesus also meant those who are sad about unhappiness in the world. Do you suppose God’s comfort could be God guiding sad people to help others?

Sometimes it is not until a hard time in our lives is over, that we can see that God was with us, that we were blessed by God.

This would be another good place to stop. (You get the idea.)

Beatitude #3 (verse 5): Blessed are the meek…

  • Blessed are the meek… is Jesus telling us to allow people to walk all over us? Don’t meek people get bullied? Don’t the strong get everything they go for? (See this post for more on what Jesus meant by meek.)
  • What if you “gave in” to someone else, do you suppose you’d gain or loose by acting meekly?
  • How would it feel to be labeled by your friends as “meek?”
  • The meekness that Jesus is describing is like a powerful horse who by it’s training is able to be ridden. (This is the way the Greek word for meek – praus – was used.) So in a sense, the horse is being meek! A meek person isn’t weak; they are strong! What are other examples of power under control? How does this change your feelings about being meek?

Being meek is hard work! It goes against what the world around us tells us we should do. I’ll bet that we need to pray to God for his help to be meek.

To be continued… here!


Photo credits:
Blessed are… by Joe Cavazos, used with permission from from CreationSwap.
Clip art in the Public Domain from

What mountain are you climbing?

Running up the hillWhat mountain are you climbing these days?

Does it feel like it’s a long, uphill climb?

Or is it a “mountain top” experience?


Everyone would like to be happy. Most of us spend the majority of our lives searching for happiness – climbing this “mountain” or the next…

Or maybe it’s that one over there?

One day Jesus went up on the side of a “mountain” and gave us the Sermon on the Mount. His sermon starts off with what we call the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes outline what sort of people receive blessings – gifts bestowed by God which bring us supreme happiness.

Ahh, the “mountain” we ought to climb?

According to the Beatitudes those who receive God’s blessings are…

  • Those who are poor in spirit.
  • Those who mourn.
  • Those who are meek…

What do you think of the start of Jesus’ list? Does it include character traits that you thought were important?

Or were you surprised?

The meek? The weak and defenseless? Aren’t the meek ignored and trampled underfoot?

And those who mourn? Can we really be “blessed” when bad things happen, causing us to mourn?

The Sermon on the Mount would have shocked those who first heard it; as it can us today. It is about intentionally living life with God’s values.

It might require running up a different hill.

Sometimes it helps to understand what Jesus meant. The way Jesus used “meek” translates from the original Greek, as “gentle,” “considerate,” and “courteous.” Therefore, those with an attitude of meekness are humble people; they are patient, they don’t need to be first, they restrain their anger, they have a servant attitude. The meek also humble themselves before God – they accept God’s guidance in all things. God is in charge.

Are you teaching your kids to climb up the “Meek Mountain?” How can they do this without being seen as weak?

  • Humble people are gentle with others and nonviolent.
  • A humble person wouldn’t brag about how far she could kick a ball but would use her talents to teach someone else.
  • Humble people know where they come from; they are open to God’s leading in their life.

Taken together the Beatitudes give us a framework for living – attitudes to acquire in order to become faithful disciples leading to blessings beyond measure!

What mountain are you climbing?


Photo credits:
Running up a hill by Alisha Vargas, is licensed on Flickr under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).

The Beatitudes – workshops we’ve used

Rotation Model logoWhen you’ve been using the Workshop Rotation Model for Sunday school as long as we have (15+ years!) you find that stories are repeated – at least every 6 years. (Six grades cycling through each Rotation… every six years is a totally new group of kids. Time for some do-again!)

In April 2017 we are about to revisit The Beatitudes, last done in 2004 and 2010. The schedule of which workshop your child will visit in the coming weeks, can be found on this page.

In a look at the past, here is what we did in each workshop for The Beatitudes Rotation, in preceding years:

  • In the Art Workshop (2010) students will imagine themselves in the crowd that participated in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. They will create renditions of themselves that will then be cutout and displayed on a mural. Stay tuned to see everyone at the Sermon on the Mount! (To ensure that everyone has a chance to be in our creation, two Art workshops will run concurrently, one for younger grades and one for older.)
  • In the Cooking Workshop (2010) students will discuss how Jesus’ teachings seem contrary (upside-down). Create mini Pineapple Upside-Down cakes to take home to share with their family. (And hopefully to further talk about the up-side down nature of Jesus’ words!)
  • In the Drama Workshop (2010) students will use sign language to discover a different way to express the Beatitudes. Discuss how can we apply the Beatitudes to our lives in the “Kingdom of God.”
  • In the Games Workshop students will explore living as Jesus taught while playing as game pieces on a life-size game board.
  • In the Video Workshop (2010) students will view the live-action video, The Visual Bible: Matthew showing Jesus teaching the Beatitudes.

Why are we doing different workshops?
There are several reasons including:

  • Our focus for a Rotation has changed (we’ve gained new understanding!)
  • We know our kids. We know what will, and won’t work with them.
  • We’ve got a new idea for a workshop!


Photo credits:
Rotation Model logo, used with permission, has been slightly altered.