Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday is for Imperfect Prose: lucky

January 2010
all those charts represent the timeline of Brian's life and our search to know God's calling on him

A few years ago, Brian and I, along with a couple of co-workers, attended the Transforming Culture Symposium in Austin.  It was during this symposium I was able to first hear Eugene Peterson speak in person.  I'd certainly heard his voice before in the notes and book introductions throughout the Message. When he shared a story with us about trying to negotiate with the publishers on his interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, I kind of wished we'd been able to hear more of his voice in that particular paraphrase. 

He said that when he did the study on the etymology of the repeated benediction blessed are they, he felt the best word choice would be lucky.  Explaining that his years of pastoring congregations were formative in his approach to working out the Message.  One particular member of his congregation came to mind as he was working on the Sermon on the Mount.  She was an artist who told him while he was teaching a series on David, having never learned the Bible even as a well-read woman, "I feel so lucky.  I never heard that story before."  Every Sunday after that, the same thing, "I feel so lucky.  I never heard that story before."

After submitting the particular part of the manuscript, Peterson's editor called him up and said "You can't use that word. A whole subculture thinks that 'lucky' is a code word for 'Lucifer'."  

During the conference, the moderator asked Pastor Peterson, "When we read that portion in the Message, we could read that as 'lucky'?"

With an almost devilish grin, he responded, "Yes. You could."

Ever since, Brian and I read the Sermon on the Mount as the lucky are theys.

On Monday evening, when Brian came home from the day at work he'd been expecting for months now, the day he learned for certain that he would no longer have a job after June.  The day it was confirmed for us that he would, indeed, be laid off for the second time in only ten months time, I played this song for him*.  You should know my intention was not to force a grin-and-bear-it attitude in him or, even, slap a "God will make a way!" label on this season in our lives.  What I was hoping is that he'd hear the message again and that it would comfort and encourage him.

Blessed when you’re heartbroke / Blessed when you’re fired
 Blessed when you’re choked up / Blessed when you’re tired

I didn't know if he'd hear the line or not.  I  just kept on dicing tomatoes for salad.  Later, when we were at small group, he confessed to the group what I'd hoped he'd heard:

Lucky when you're fired.

Lucky because of some twisted, pietistic thinking that whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger?


Lucky because of who Christ has redeemed us to be, His blessed children who share in His suffering for the hope of future glory.  Who share in the sufferings of this world as one of a broken people, longing for wholeness and redemption.  Who share in the suffering of a broke and anxious city, fearing for unknown job security.

Lucky to know the peace and pass the peace of Christ around indiscriminately to our neighbors and family and, to our own fearful selves. 

*I should say that I probably wouldn't know this song existed if this guy hadn't told us about it several months back.
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