From a crown of thorns to a crown of gold: Westminster focuses on Beatitudes during LentWORTHINGTON — At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 5:3-10), Jesus presents the teachings that have become known as the Beatitudes:
By: Beth Rickers, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 5:3-10), Jesus presents the teachings that have become known as the Beatitudes:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The Beatitudes are at the heart of a special focus this Lenten season at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Worthington. Called “Dress for Lent,” the Lenten theme encourages that “instead of changing clothes for Easter, join us as we change our attitudes being fashioned by Jesus’ Beatitudes.”
The theme came together during meetings of Westminster’s Worship Design Team.
“We’ve done this a number of times,” explained the Rev. Jim Krapf, pastor of Westminster. “We just have a brainstorming session and do some things like word associations. We did word associations with Lent and word associations with the Beatitudes, and then to do some creative thinking, we cross-referenced some of those and had teams of two or three people discuss what thoughts come to mind in all of this.”
In preparation for the Lenten season, eight Westminster members were involved in the worship design process. They began to discuss what’s unique about the context of celebrating Lent in terms of what is happening in their congregation, community and world.
“That’s when the mother of a son who is being deployed to the Middle East — either Afghanistan or Iraq — talked about his tattoo, about the crown of thorns he has around his bicep. She wasn’t fully aware of what it meant to her son, except these things: It’s kind of a badge to remind him that God was watching over him even as he put himself in harm’s way; but also that putting oneself in harm’s way is sometimes necessary to accomplish good.
“Out of all that came forth the whole idea of moving from a crown of thorns to a crown of gold,” Krapf continued. “And we picked up on the idea of gold being refined by going through heat to consume the contaminants, and how sometimes it’s when we go through difficult times, facing suffering, that we become more pure.”
That’s where the Beatitudes fit in, Krapf explained, as they are the characteristics of those who are living within God’s kingdom.
“Part of the way we get blessed is dealing with the development of character when we go through difficult times,” he said. “Matthew, in his Gospel, presents Jesus as the king, so that tied in with the crown of gold as well.”
Using input from the Worship Design Team, Krapf further honed the concept and came up with a schedule of Sunday services that progresses through the Lenten season, beginning this Sunday with “Satisfaction for Those Who Are ‘Hungering for Righteousness.’”
Themes for successive weeks are: Feb. 28, “Comfort for the Mourning”; March 7, “Mercy for the Merciful”; March 14, “Seeing God for the Pure of Heart”; March 21, “Children of God for the Peacemakers”; March 28, “Inheriting the Earth for the Meek and the Kingdom of God for the Persecuted.”
“One of the things that serendipitously happened is that I gave a first draft of what this might look like to our deacons and asked our deacons to share that with the members of our congregation to come and be part of Lent,” Krapf said. “We polished up the design but also tried to think of ways we could deliver this invitation. Here, in our congregation, the moderator of our deacons is also our Sunday school superintendent, a creative person who then took and more fully designed an invitation and is also having the Sunday school children do some journal writing around Bible passages that have referenced the crowns. So there was some synergism unfolding in this.”
Throughout the Lenten season, Krapf plans to display both a gold crown and crown of thorns in the church and is also contemplating some other projects to emphasize the theme in the weeks to come.
“We hope it’s something that helps people receive those blessings that Jesus wants for us.” Krapf emphasized. “But those blessings aren’t just the monetary, comfort things. The blessing is the depth of character that carries you through.”
Services are at 10 a.m. Sunday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, located at 230 Clary St.