Here you will find two particular tools Westwood members use weekly that enhance our participation in our weekly worship services. First, you will find our weekly Worship Prep Guide that Pastor Gerald puts out each Friday. This guide includes some thoughts to help us all prepare for the message coming up on Sunday. Second, you will find our weekly Life Group Guide. This guide includes a small way to interact with Sunday’s message & passage that helps each of us to reflect upon and internalize God’s Word.

Worship Prep (Sunday, February 18, 2018)

Blaise Pascal said, All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
The Continental Congress put it this way: We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Most Americans believe that the pursuit of happiness is our right. Yet that has evolved into the belief that being happy is our right.
We all want to be happy – and everything we do is motivated not by what will make us happy – but by what we believe will make us happy. So what we have as the object of that happiness is the critical issue. Where should we seek fulfillment / happiness? What is the best object of our happiness? Where will we find and experience the flourishing life – a real & lasting happiness?
Jesus began his public ministry by showing us what the truly happy life – the God-centered flourishing life looks like. Not only does he show us what that life looks like, but he invites us to follow him and experience it. In the Beatitudes we see a description and commendation of the good life. Jesus is offering and inviting us into a radical way of being in the world that will result in our “true and full flourishing now and in the age to come.” (Pennington)
But be must be aware (and warned) that the flourishing (blessed/happy) life Jesus presents is going to require a compete reorientation in our thinking and understanding of what it means to thrive – what it means to be blessed – what it means to be happy. “The Beatitudes are inherently counter-cultural.” (McKnight) What Jesus reveals in his teaching and in his life, is that the flourishing life includes many things that we would naturally and vehemently try to avoid – poverty of spirit, mourning, humility, hunger and thirst, meekness, being peaceful toward our enemies and suffering through persecution at the hands of those enemies.
This is what Jesus taught. And this is how Jesus lived. So, the Beatitudes will show us that the flourishing life is not what we might expect.
I look forward to seeing you in church this Sunday as we dive into the Beatitudes.