Redefining Blessings: Alumna Tara Beth Leach Unpacks the Beatitudes

Alumna returned to Olivet to lead the student body in a deep exploration of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

December 26, 2023 Alumni & Friends, Campus Life

Photo of Alumna Tara Beth Leach speaking in Chapel at Olivet nazarene University

Alumna Tara Beth Leach ’05, pastor at Good Shepherd Church in Naperville, IL, returned to Olivet’s chapel to lead the student body in a deep exploration of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Her message was particularly focused on the Beatitudes, reflecting on the true meaning of blessing and the counter-cultural vision of the Kingdom of God as presented by Jesus.

Leach began by revisiting the concept of the Beatitudes, likening them to a table where Jesus invites various people, representing different struggles and life situations, into the Kingdom of God.

Drawing from experiences including her father’s emotional journey of dropping her off at Olivet as a freshman, Leach invited the ONU community to connect on a very personal level. She used this narrative to segue into a critique of Western culture’s emphasis on independence and self-reliance. Leach highlighted the bittersweet nature of independence both in parenting and spiritual growth.

The central theme of her message was a challenge to the conventional understanding of ‘blessing’ as seen in contemporary society, especially as portrayed in social media with the ubiquitous #blessed. Leach pointed out the stark contrast between this worldly view and the blessings described in the Beatitudes. In the Beatitudes, those who are poor in spirit, mourn and are persecuted are considered blessed in the Kingdom of God.

Leach’s thought-provoking interpretation of the Beatitudes emphasized that being ‘blessed’ in the Kingdom of God isn’t about external achievements or material wealth but is about recognizing our spiritual neediness and dependence on God. This perspective flips the script on the traditional notion of success and achievement, calling for a radical rethinking of what it means to be truly blessed.

Concluding, Leach invited her listeners to reflect on their own lives in the light of Jesus’s teachings. She urged them to consider their dependence on God, not just in times of need but as a constant state of being. This call to a deeper, more authentic spirituality, where one acknowledges their need for God in every aspect of life, was a powerful reminder of the true essence of being a follower of Christ.

Stream the full video of the chapel service here.

Photo of Alumna Tara Beth Leach speaking in Chapel at Olivet nazarene University

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

Where Your Future Begins

We Believe. You Belong Here. Discover why Olivet is a place where faith meets calling. Take the first step today.

Plan a Visit Start my Application