The Rev. Paul Dunstan, Superintendent Minister for Tynedale Methodist Circuit, comments on Matthew 5 v 1 – 12:

What does it take to make us happy?

Even if we don’t know, it shouldn’t surprise us if the Creator does, and sure enough the Bible has a lot to say on the subject. According to Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’s first teaching for the disciples was on the subject.

The word he uses over and over can be translated ‘happy’ or ‘blessed’. You might get the idea that he wants us to be happy! But how?

Look up #blessed on virtually any social media and you’ll see people showing off new babies, new cars, new jewellery, and new trophies.

We’re brainwashed to think happiness is about success. It comes from wealth; from never experiencing anything that causes us grief; from freedom to do our own thing and to achieve our own goals.

We sometimes avoid the poor, or those who are grieving, or the ‘fanatics’ who want to do God’s will: they commit the sin of making us feel uncomfortable.

And we think #blessed is out of their reach; or ours, if we’re poor or grieving or victimised....

But Jesus says God doesn’t avoid such people. Far from it.

God blesses the poor, those who mourn, the humble, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful....

Jesus here proclaims that God’s reign is good news for such people. Jesus isn’t being obtuse! He’s revealing the deep truths.

Is a new baby/car/necklace/trophy the key to happiness? Or does blessing come to those who cry out to God in their need and hunger?

And if society and the creator say different things about where happiness lies and about who is blessed, we have to decide who is more likely to be right. And my money is on the creator.