Note to the Teacher
The scripture we read is from the first part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where he delivers what we commonly refer to as the Beatitudes. The opening activity has students thinking about a time in their lives when they were the happiest. The discussion encourages students to think about how living out the Beatitudes brings blessings to their lives. The activity and discussion has students thinking about the Beatitudes and how they can remember them daily. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: 'Happiness Picture Challenge' (10 minutes)
Start by explaining to your students that they do not have to have a phone to participate in this activity. Ask students to think about a time in their lives when they have been the happiest. If they have a phone and they have a picture of that time, you can invite them to share that picture. Go around the group and ask everyone to share about that time. Really encourage students to “paint a picture” for the group to allow the group to visualize what’s going on and what students looked like at the happiest they have ever been. If students have a picture from their phones, they can share that as well.
- Why were you so happy?
- What makes a person happy?
- Do you ever think you’ll be happier than you were that day?
- Do you find it easy or hard to be happy?
- What do you require to be happy?
Transition by sharing with your students that today you are looking into the Beatitudes. Many of your students have heard these before; however today, we’re going to discuss them deeper and then come up with a way to keep them in our minds.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today is from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount where he shares with his disciples what it means to be blessed. We commonly refer to these as the Beatitudes.
Read Matthew 5:1-12.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- To whom is Jesus speaking on the mountain?
- What word appears the most in our reading? How many times does it appear?
- What do you think it means to be a blessing? Or to be blessed? What do you think a blessing is?
- Which beatitudes seem confusing or don’t make sense?
- What does a “blessed” person receive?
- What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? Why would the poor in spirit receive the kingdom of heaven?
- What does it mean to mourn? Why would mourners be comforted?
- What does it mean to be meek? Why would the meek inherit the earth?
- What does it mean to “hunger and thirst for righteousness”? Why would they be filled?
- What does it mean to be merciful? Why will the merciful receive mercy?
- What does it mean to be “pure in heart”? Why will they see God?
- What does it mean to be a “peacemaker”? Why will peacemakers be called “children of God”?
- What does it mean to be persecuted? Why will they receive the kingdom of heaven?
- What does it mean to have people utter all kinds of evil against you? Why would you rejoice because of that?
- Which Beatitude resonates with you the most? Why?
4. Activity and Discussion: 'A Letter to the Church Today' (20 minutes)
Explain to your students that today you are going to come up with some creative ways to remember the Beatitudes.
Option 1: Ask students to write down each Beatitude on a piece of paper. Now in their own words, rewrite the Beatitudes. Once students have had the chance to rewrite their own Beatitudes, have them share with the group. (You may want to have students work together if possible.)
- Was it easy or hard to rewrite the Beatitudes? Why?
- Which Beatitude was the easiest to rewrite? Which one was the hardest?
- Which Beatitude do you relate to the most? Why?
Option 2: Ask your students to get creative and come up with a symbol or simple design to express each Beatitude. Hand out paper and pens, markers, and colored pencils and invite your students to be creative. Once everyone has finished, invite students to share their symbols.
- What symbol was your favorite? Why?
- Which symbol is the easiest to remember? Why?
- How can we use these symbols to help us remember the Beatitudes this week?
Extra Credit: (If time allows) Compare and contrast the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments.
Close your time together in a manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys and concerns, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.
Total time: 50 minutes
- Pens or pencils
- Markers or colored pencils
- Assorted supplies for the ice breaker (see above)