Stu Garrard (or Stu G) was once the guitarist for a ‘little’ worship band called Delirious? for its twenty-year run from The Cutting Edge Band to Delirious? (circa 1992-2009). Now residing in Tennessee, the musician-turned-humanitarian finds himself musing on the teachings of Jesus and how they should intersect with his soul. In his debut book, he turns his attention to The Beatitudes Project, specifically called Words from the Hill.
In Words from Hill, Garrard recounts the stories of people he has met through the years who have struggled with some aspect of applying their beliefs and the love of God to real life. Tracking through the pattern of the Beatitudes, Garrard tackles the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted. At times, he’s hitting on the orthodoxy of each verse from Matthew 5; at other times, he’s showing us a different side of Americana via his Englishman-in-Nashville perspective.
Some of the stories Garrard tells are parable-like in nature; some are practical. I’ll give examples of each from two of my favorite stories he tells. The first one comes from the chapter “Mourn: The Grief of Change,” where he shares the story of a village that has a communal reaction to mourning. On the night of a person’s death, every neighbor changes something about their house (externally) so that the next morning, when the mourning neighbor awakes, they can see that their loss has changed life for everyone else, too. It’s not mourning in isolation but recognizing that we’re in this together.
Later, in “Hunger or Thirst: Blessing or Requirement?” he talks about being an Acts 2 church (an aim of mine as a pastor), and how the church saw that making life for single mothers ‘doable,’ that rides were a must. Church of the City pastor Darren Whitehead (in Franklin, TN, but originally from Australia) saw that to tangibly support “widows and orphans,” that helping them have a car to get to work, the doctors, school, etc. was a necessity not a frivolous want. So his church has made that a specific ministry of their living out the Beatitudes.
Whether it’s practical or intellectually inspiration, Garrard’s book is full of stories like these that provoke us to see the Beatitudes differently, and to consider how we can engage that life Jesus talked about in the moments that we live.