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How to keep on living the good and beautiful lifeBy Jim Somerville.

During the Season of Lent, the members and friends of Richmond’s First Baptist Church studied a book called The Good and Beautiful Life, by James Bryan Smith. Some of them met in homes, some in Sunday school classes, some came to the Journey to the Cross services, and some did all of the above.  It was a powerful community-building exercise, and I think we all learned a great deal.

So, now what?

The original plan was this: that we would spend the Season of Lent learning about the Good and Beautiful Life, that we would spend the Season of Easter living the Good and Beautiful Life, and then spend the Season of Pentecost sharing the Good and Beautiful Life.

Learning, living, sharing.  Got it?

According to that plan we are now in the Great Fifty Days of the Easter season (April 5 through May 23), the season of living the life.  But how do we do that?  Or, rather, how do we keep on doing it?

Here’s one suggestion:

The Good and Beautiful Life is essentially a study of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.  James Bryan Smith’s premise is that in these chapters Jesus explains what life in God’s kingdom looks like and what it would take to live it.  The life of the kingdom is the good and beautiful life, Smith argues, and if we could learn to do what Jesus says we would know that.

So, try this.

In the remainder of this season, all the way up to May 24, the Day of Pentecost, try reading the Sermon on the Mount as a kind of daily devotion.  If you’re reading this on your computer, you can simply click HERE and go to a page that has the whole sermon waiting for you in the New Revised Standard Version.  Click that same link tomorrow and try reading it in a different version, the Message, or the NIV.  Maybe you could read a different version every day, just to keep it fresh.

My hope is this: that if you saturate yourself in that sermon, if you sink down into its message day after day, you will begin to live the life it describes.  You will trust God more.  You will hate others less.  You will pluck up the seed of sin before it can take root.  You will know that you are blessed.  You will be like the one who built his house on a rock.

Try it!  Live it!  And then get ready to share it.

A life like this will be too good and beautiful to keep to yourself.

 This post originally appeared in JimsBlog, the Pastor’s blog, on April 13, 2015.

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(L-R) Becky Payne and Doris Pittman were among 30 FBC staff members who helped prepare gifts in December.

A Mixteca family enjoying their gifts.

Thirty members of the FBC staff spent a morning in December stuffing Christmas stockings, wrapping gifts, writing cards, and assembling gift baskets for some 300 homeless, disadvantaged and disenfranchised members of the Richmond community.

The gifts went to a number of places:

  • Twenty-two Mixteca immigrant families, with 78 children in south Richmond
  • Seven families, with 10 children at Fresh Start for Single Women
  • 105 community missions clients who participated in the homeless breakfast December 20
  • 80 Grace Fellowship participants
  • Nine children at the Rosy Grier Youth Pavilion
  • and five other families.

The effort was coordinated by the Ministry of Christian Compassion. Gifts and items for the baskets were donated by church members and Weekday Preschool parents and children. Other items were purchased with money given to Community Missions.

Mary Willis, daughter of FBC member LaVora Sprinkle, is the church’s “connection” with the Mixteca community. She has been working for several years with a few dozen families in the Mixteca community who live in a trailer park in south Richmond. She teaches English and helps the families with the basic necessities of living.

The Mixteca are indigenous to the southern, Pacific coastal region of Mexico. Mary grew up speaking Spanish, the daughter of Southern Baptist missionaries. But even she often has a challenge communicating with some of the families. They have their own language. Many of them speak a tribal dialect within the Mixteca language.

In addition to the Christmas gifts, FBC has helped Mary with providing English classes, making repairs to some of the homes, and providing other assistance to the Mixteca families.

(l to r) Lindsey McClintock, Ralph Starling, Jim Somerville, Mary Willis, and Steve Blanchard delivered gifts to the Mixteca families a few days before Christmas.

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