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bless you, yes, but what does that mean???

I will also bless those who bless you and further you in your journey, and I’ll trip up those who try to trip you along the way. Through your descendants, all the families of the earth will find their blessing in you.
~ Genesis 12:3

I’ve begun a leisurely stroll through the Bible in The Voice – it’s creators calling it a translation based on “contextual equivalence” which Bless You  6005they define as a translation technique that “seeks to convey the original language accurately while rendering the literary structures and character of a text in readable and meaningful contemporary language”; an approach that “keeps in mind the smaller parts and the larger whole” and “captures uniquely the poetic imagery and literary artistry of the original in a way that is beautiful and meaningful.”

Whatever.

All I know is it works for me. Imagine that. A translation intentionally engaging the imagination and aiming at beauty and meaning! It’s been awhile since I’ve had this much fun reading an English translation. I find myself being carried away by turns in texts I would never have guessed had it in them – which is, I suppose, a key mark of success in any biblical translation effort.

Take this turn in Genesis 12:3.

“Bless you,” we frequently say. Especially after sneezes.
“Bless you.” Nice, but what does that mean?
The conferring of a divine benefit or gift, perhaps?
An inspirational download?
A God-pat on the back?
We could commence a verbal digging into the land of word studies, turning over Hebrew and Greek topsoil and seeking the roots. Yes, that’s one way of going about it. But the slight turn in The Voice with their elaborating addition of “and further you in your journey” – wow. It opens up vistas of meaning.

What a concept!

To further someone in their journey is to bless them; to bless them is to further them in their journey. To impede your progress, to trip you up on your way is to curse you.

That just put some teeth in this for me.

Who am I impeding in their journey – no matter how sweet and sound be the verbiage from my lips? Who am I furthering in their journey – no matter how uncouth, clumsy, fumbling or “cursing” my speech my seem?

Ah, now these be good questions for the day…

the Way_feet

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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in haverings, Uncategorized

 

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i went. i washed. i see.

This week’s installment of the MAV – John 9:1-12…I want to stay with the former blind man, splashing my toes translation_4in the pool….

And as Jesus made good his escape from those encircling fists clenching stones, he paused upon seeing a blind man among many begging along the road – it became clear that this man had never seen a thing his whole life.

Realizing this, the disciples saw the opportunity to see Jesus solve an old theological puzzle, so they asked him, “Okay, Rabbi, whose sin is responsible for this man’s blindness? His own or his parents? Is this an inherited condition, or one he’s responsible for?”

But Jesus saw more than an opportunity to solve a riddle.

Not taking his eyes off the blind man for a moment, he told them,
“You’re missing the point. Neither. Not this one, and not them either. You’re asking the wrong questions. The question is how can the wonder-works of God be seen in such a man’s blindness? We’re not here to speculate or conjecture over such a man’s condition, we’re here to do something about it – we’re here to be workers of God-wonders – to do what the Great Sending God would have us do while there’s still light in which to do it. Night comes all too soon, and such wonder-working opportunities will slip right through our idle fingers and then we can’t do anything about it. But as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of the world –
and watch me shine…”

And with that he suddenly spat on the ground,
and then stooping down,
this time he didn’t doodle in the dirt,
he played with it,
making his own little mud pie with his own spit.

Then, scooping up the mud pie, he shared a fresh anointing with the unsuspecting blind man: he anointed his eyes with his muddy mixture, rubbing it into his eyes to the now loud protests of the blind man.

When Jesus had finished his muddy work, he told the protesting blind man, “Okay, go and wash out your eyes then. Rinse them in the pool of Siloam (footnote: Siloam = Mission Springs or Water With a Purpose).

So the man went. And then he washed all the mud out of his eyes. And then he came back, unaided. Seeing. (Jesus, of course, was nowhere to be seen.)

His fellow beggars and panhandlers couldn’t believe their eyes – or his!

Everyone who laid eyes on this now former blind beggar keep muttering to each other, “This isn’t the man who sat here and begged day in and day out, is it? It can’t be!” Others, dumbfounded, began blurting out, “Wait a minute, this is him!” Others retorted, “No way! This guy just looks like him!”

Amidst all of their rapidly escalating debate the blind man just stood there saying, incredulously, “No it is me! I am that guy!”

Then they started their own little inquiry: “How is that possible? How were your eyes opened? How do you now see!?” Still not believing what had just happened, the now former blind man slowed himself down and told the simple tale:“This guy named Jesus made mud, smeared it all over these eyes of mine, and then said to me, simply, ‘Go to Mission Springs. Rinse.’ And that’s what I did. I went, I washed, I watched.”

Everyone standing around him asked him, “So where is this guy?”

And he said he didn’t have a clue.

He’d never laid eyes on him yet.

translation_1

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2014 in MAV

 

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we can enjoy the sun or spend the day arguing about where it came from…

This week’s installment of my finderpainting in the MAV…John 8:12-30…entitled, well, you just read the title, didn’t you…

And so once again, amid the endless speculation and controversy, bathed in the light of the huge lamp stand turn on the lightmenorahs in the temple courtyard as the Tentmaker celebration finished winding down, Jesus spoke up:

“I am the light of the world! The one who tracks with me through thick and thin will never, ever find himself stumbling around in the dark – no, they’ll be beaming with the light of life on their faces! (Move over, veiled Moses from the mount!)”

The Pharisees were quick with their comeback: “A lot of loud talk from your own big mouth proves nothing! Your self-testimonial is all hot air and no substance!”

Jesus was ready with his own comeback:

“Even if it is just my big mouth giving my own testimonial, it’s still bona-fide, solid truth – because I know full well where I’ve come from and I know exactly where I’m going.

But you, you don’t have a clue about either.

got a light?

got a light?

You are constantly trafficking in superficial judgments on everyone and everything; and I’m happy to leave it to you – I’m staying out of the judging business altogether. But, you know, if I do pass judgment on anything, it’s right on the mark because it’s not just me lowering the gavel – the gavel is in my Abba’s hand, and he’s the one who sent me here in the first place.

And doesn’t it say somewhere in that law of yours, you experts, that when it’s two people standing up to testify, now you have a solid, credible case? Well let’s count. I’m saying what’s what about myself, and my Abba who sent me adds his voice to mine. Sounds like two witnesses to me!”

Leaning in, the experts goaded him, “Where is this ‘Abba’ of yours?”

Jesus leaned in as well, “You have no clue who I am, and so it’s no wonder you’re in the dark about my Abba.
If you had the capacity to really get me, you’d wouldn’t be lost as to who my Abba is – you’d see him in my face.”

And he said this right there, on their turf, in the courtyard by the treasury of all places! making himself right at home teaching in the temple. And not one of them laid a finger on him – because that would be worked out on his own timetable.

Fast forward.
But just a little.
Still in the temple, now over towards Solomon’s Portico.
Still teaching.
Jesus picks up the dangling thread and finishes this verbal testimony tapestry:

“I’m leaving and you’ll look for me, but your search will lead you nowhere but to the dead end cul de sac of your

sitting down is progress

sitting down is progress

own stubborn rebellion, and there you’ll die. The end. Fin. You simply can’t go where I’m heading.”

The local religious trolls snarked to each other, “What? Is he going to kill himself and wake up in hell? Is that what he means by ‘You can’t go where I’m heading’?”

Jesus then spoke clearly through their snickering guffaws, “If anyone here is from the nether regions, it’s you. I’m from above. You’re right at home here in this world of yours, but not me. This world of yours is not my home. Which is why I told you, ‘you’re headed to the dead end cul de sac of your own stubborn rebellion and there you will die.’ Yes, if you can’t see and trust who I AM, you will shrivel and die, right there in the sins of your stubborn defiance.”

They shot back, “Why don’t you just tell us right now in plain Aramaic WHO ARE YOU???”

He shot right back, “What from the start I have been saying! Oy! So much I could say about you, so many judgments I could pass on you if that were my game! But what does it matter? The One who sent me is true through and through, and what passes from his mouth to my ear is what I will speak to you and to this world of yours.”

And yes, they were clueless. No idea what or who he was talking about – his Abba.

So Jesus, again, picking up the thread, wove a new picture for them:

that'll work

that’ll work

“Whenever you lift up the Son of Man – the ultimate Human Being – then you’ll finally get who I AM, and realize that I’m not the one calling the shots, carrying out my own game plan, but that I’m only carrying out and speaking out what my Abba gives me to say and do. And the One who sent me is with me, and he’s with me to stay, because what I do always meets with his big ‘thumbs up.’ Way up. Always.”

And while many were snarkily shaking their heads as he said all this, many began to experience a turn in themselves.

 

A turn towards faith.
A turn towards trust.
In him.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Gospel of John, MAV

 

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religious ruckus

This week’s installment of the MAV…John 7:53-8:11…a religious ruckus involving a disreputable woman in a disputed passage...

Meanwhile, Jesus made his way to the Mount of Olives outside the city.

But not for long.

Early the next morning he was right back at it in the temple. All the crowd flocked to him looking for more, and he obliged them. Having taken his seat, he began teaching them – until a major religious ruckus broke out, Scripture pundits and strict sect types showing up, a woman in tow, a woman caught red-handed in the act of adultery.

They sought no private audience with Jesus, they pushed her right into the center where Jesus was teaching, challenging him,

“Rabbi, this woman was caught red-handed in the very act of adultery! We know what Moses in the law says must be done to such a woman – death by stoning. But what do you say?”

And in case you hadn’t figured it out, this whole thing was a set up; they were just looking for ammunition to nail writingindirtJesus to the wall.

But Jesus didn’t bite or budge.

He just stooped down and started doodling in the dirt with his finger.

The religious lynch mob didn’t budge either.
They stood there and kept prodding him with their own pointed fingers of accusation.

Jesus finally looked up at them and said,

“The only one with a rock in his hand is the one with no sin in his heart.”

And then he was back to finger doodling in the dirt.

Stunned by what they heard, they began to clear out, one by one, from the oldest to the youngest of them, until she was left
all
alone –
just the woman,
right there in the center.

Looking up again, Jesus spoke to her.

“Woman, where did they all go?
What, no judge and jury to condemn you?”

She said, sheepishly, “Lord, none at all.”

“Well then, you won’t hear any condemnation from me either.
On your way – only, from now on,
how about avoiding the ruts of sin
and aiming higher.”

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2014 in Gospel of John, MAV, Mercy, Religion

 

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everybody’s talkin’ at me and I just want to buy them a drink

Mike’s Authorized Version…or Amplified Version. Translation finger-painting. I do it every week in whatever text translation_4the church is studying, just a way of processing text I’ve been living with for over three decades in English and Greek or Hebrew. It’s scattered through each daily reflection on my devotional blog

Funny, I often come to the end of the week, look at this wordhavering blog and think, “Gosh, I need to write something for this” when in reality I’m pouring my writer’s soul into the MAV and the reflections springing from it week after week. And sometimes I really like the result.

So perhaps I’ll start a weekly post here, bringing those scattered weekly readings together in one place.

Just because I can…

This is what ran this past week. John 7:25-53. I would call this one “Everybody’s talkin’ at me and I just want to buy them a drink”

Drink up me hearties…

Some of the local crowd now sat up and took notice.

“Hold on a minute! Isn’t this the guy they’re after, the one with the death warrant? And here he is openly speaking his mind in public with no one saying or doing anything about it. The authorities haven’t pegged him as the Messiah after all, have they? But how can that be? We know where this guy is from – no mystery there; but the Messiah – no one will see him coming…”

Hearing all this speculation, in the midst of his teaching session in the temple Jesus hollered,

“THAT’S RIGHT, YOU KNOW ME! And you know my humble point of origin! But none of this was my idea carried out on my own initiative. I’ve been sent! And the One who sent me is true through and through, and of His identity you have not a clue! Oh, but I know him. My very being is intimately connected with His, and He’s the one who commissioned me.”

Some of those in the crowd – from the authorities, no doubt – were chomping at the bit to confine, contain and control him on the spot, but no one laid a finger on him; it wasn’t time for that.

Yet.

Meanwhile many others in the crowd were totally sold on him. “Whenever the Messiah shows,” they would say over and over to each other, “will he have a more impressive resume of signs and wonders than this fellow does?”

When members of the strict sect heard the crowd muttering such things about him, they mustered their courage, priestly authority and strict sect types alike (they didn’t usually get along too well, but now they made an exception), and together sent underlings to set upon him and put a stop to this.

Seeing their maneuverings, Jesus said it plain:

“The clock is ticking, my time with you is just about up, and then I’m off to the one who Sent me to start with. Oh how you’ll look for me then – and you won’t be able to find a trace of me – you’ll never be able to track me to this destination!”

The local crowd of Judeans were puzzled. They asked each other (having no idea how much they were saying), “Just where does he think he’s going that we can’t find him? What? He’s not off to the scattered remnants of our people among the Greeks, is he? – and outsider Greeks won’t be his pupils, will they? What’s he talking about? ‘You’ll look for me, but you won’t be able to find a trace of me,’ and ‘you’ll never be able to track me to this destination’???”

Then it came.

The last day of the Tentmaker feast.

The grand finale closing ceremonies everyone was waiting for. During a pause in the water pouring ceremony, Jesus stood up and cried out at the top of his lungs, “If anyone is thirsty, come to me, and let every one who puts their trust in me drink up! Just as the old books have said all along: ‘Rivers! Rivers from deep internal reservoirs within him will gush and cascade – refreshing, living water!’”

Pause.

A heads up for those of you who are wondering. All this living water talk? It was all about the Spirit which those who put their trust in him were going to receive. Down the road, of course. All of this was yet future.

No Spirit.
No water.
Not yet.
It all awaited the glorious consummation of his mission.

Some of the crowd – obviously not the locals! – when they heard him cry this out with such passion, kept saying, “No doubt about it! This is the one, the Prophet!”

Others among them kept saying, the excitement building, “Prophet? This is the MESSIAH!”

But others chimed in, “Not so fast! The Messiah doesn’t spring from backwater Galilee, does he? No way! The old books clearly call it, don’t they? The Messiah isn’t some Galilean, but a Bethlehemite, in the family tree of David, from David’s home town.”

So the listening crowd was pretty well split all over the place about him. Some were still chomping at the bit to seize him, but no one laid a finger on him.

The underlings from the priestly and strict sect types returned – empty handed and speechless.

“Well, why didn’t you bring him?”

They stammered blankly, “None.Ever.Talked.Like.This. Ever.”

The strict sect party howled, “You haven’t been duped too, have you? Nobody who’s anybody believes a word of this – and certainly none of our highly educated members. Damned, ignorant, clueless, crowds! They’ll believe anything – and anyone!”

Nicodemus, one of their own, shoots back at them – knowing a thing or two more about this Jesus than they did, having just had his private interview with Jesus –

“Hold on here, this isn’t biblical, is it? This isn’t what the Law would have us do – judge and condemn someone without hearing firsthand from him what he has to say for himself and seeing just exactly what it is he’s doing – is it?

Nicodemus wasn’t scoring any points.

They shot right back at him, “What? Are you some ignorant Galilean too!? Check it out! You should know this! A prophet? Arising from the muck of Galilee? Preposterous! Never!”

And that was that.
Meeting adjourned.

Everyone went home.

translation_1

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2014 in Gospel of John, MAV

 

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