I’ve always been a bit confused by the Beatitudes. You know, the “blessed are you” passages… Honestly, I don’t feel “blessed” at all when my spirit is lacking, I mourn, am grossly overmatched or suffering an injustice. Rarely do I find showing mercy, pure-heartedness, peace-making or persecution to be calm, peace-filled endeavors.
Okay, so you say, but they point us to a future where we will be blessed — as kingdom-dwellers. There we’ll be comfortable heirs, contented to experience mercy, see God, and be received as children. Perhaps true, but still confounding to me, because Jesus always struck me as a present tense kind of guy; not just a wait-it-out-and-you-will-see kind of guy. After all, future promises ring pretty hollow when our today is so gnarly.
So, I was delighted to read another take on the “Blessed are you’s,” described in today’s Richard Rohr’s Contemplation and Action newsletter and quoted from Elias Chacour’s book We Belong to the Land. Chacour suggests that the verb traditionally translated as “blessed are you” from the Aramaic is more accurately, Get up, go ahead, do something, move. You who are feeling low or worn out, move into the Kingdom that’s here now. See it! Hear it! Feel it! Claim it!
Now THAT sounds more like Jesus, to me. So let’s rewrite those beatitudes.
Matthew 5 tells us, “when Jesus saw the crowds (he had been healing from every disease and sickness), he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”
When He said:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are poor in spirit because I am here to fill even the hollow places with spirit-wholeness.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are in mourning because I bring hope and a new day.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, because I will use your meekness to bring down even the mightiest strongmen.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who seek justice, for in your seeking you will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who offer mercy, my grace and mercy will rain down upon you.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are pure in heart, for there you will see me.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who work for peace for there I will be among you.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move and keep moving, you who are beaten down and even killed, for today you will be with me in paradise.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are vilified because of me, for I will stand with you when you defend my name.
In your going and doing, “rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”
Did you know that God Bless America doesn’t start with the words God Bless America? There is a verse preceding the chorus we know as the song. It is a preamble, if you will, or a statement of intention about the words to be sung.
This is how God Bless America really begins:
“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. “
It’s a prayer.
As storm clouds gather, not far across the sea, but near to us indeed,
In our land, full of freedoms, opportunity and promise,
Can we, in gratitude and thanks, together raise our voices
in a solemn prayer…
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light…
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In our first 20 years, we're training.
In our second 20 years, we're aiming.
In our third 20 years, we're claiming, then
In our fourth 20 years, we're naming.
So, taking stock here @ 60, here's what I see
when I take a closer look at the one who is becoming me.
I'm a writer-downer, a recorder,
a summarizer and reporter.
A gap-filler, a needs-meeter,
On my best days, a finisher-upper.
Not a leader, really, not a future-seer,
nor a risk-taker or a way-maker.
More of a sag-wagon driver,
or a street sweeper.
But don't mistake me for a late-sleeper.
I'm a puzzle-doer, program coordinator,
A lost-finder, a good looker,
Avid practicer, not perfecter
I'm a ducker, mostly not a hitter.
More of a guest than a hoster,
A preparer, not a roaster,
I'm a greeter. Really, a welcomer,
Sketcher, chalker, and avid walker.
I'm a waiter and a seer
A fan and a cheerleader,
supporter, and attender
Challenger and contender.
Call on me as cleaner-upper,
A problem solver, a self-starter.
Yes, a spell checker and self-editor.
Explainer and a moderator.
A tender and sharer, an appreciator.
Both doer and undoer.
A go-er and come to-er.
On Sunday I'm a pew-sitter,
an enthusiastic hymn singer.
Both practitioner and preacher,
an unfolder and a teacher.
Call me thinker, ponderer? you bet
A poet-er, yes, a poetess,
Also, a poet-mess
But I dare not be poemless.
I'm just a scribe, really a scribbler.
Get it all down before I forgit 'er
A builder, not a demolisher
scratcher of surfaces, dedicated looker under-er.
I'm a gatherer, not a hunter,
A convener, rarely a punter.
A playmaker, deal-breaker,
a truth-teller, reader and discover-er.
Def an un-waster, collector and keeper.
A news consumer and a news creator.
Only occasionally am I a spectator.
What I will be, we will see
Glad I'm still growin' at sixty.