Your’re Blessed by a Zerburt
You’re Blessed by a Zerburt – By MVC Guest Author, Casey Giffen
Holding him upside down by his ankles, I tease and tickle my grandson. I do this because I can—although someday I’ll be too old, and he’ll be too big—and he giggles, incapable of doing anything about his plight. It’s only for a few seconds. It’s not as though CPS is needed; it’s just my odd way of TLC. I suppose my ornery side shows. Then, turning him right-side up, I embrace him, initiating a gushing zerbert into his neck and reaffirming my love for him.
The past few weeks, I’ve been wondering about normal daily incidences which appear verses what are. Perhaps there’s something about being upside down that paradoxically puts things right-side up.
In an inverse vein, I reread in reverse some verses from the gospel of Matthew, namely chapters 5:3 to 4:23. Prior to Jesus beginning his beatitude blessings, he arrives in a quiet place with his climbing companions, those whom Eugene Peterson describes in The Message as “apprenticed to him.” They climb above the “huge crowds” at the bottom of the hillside.
At the end of chapter 4, Matthew narrates that Jesus has drawn attention. Crowds come not only from Galilee, but also from the “entire Roman province of Syria.” I’d venture to say that the Word got around the “Ten Towns,” Jerusalem and Judea similar to the way our instantaneous social media connects today; the world is flat so to say when it comes to communication, and good news spreads higgledy-piggledy throughout the known world. Low and behold, all sorts of people show up: those with physical ailments, emotional ailments, and mental ailments. The kicker is not only that folks bring anybody who’s broken, but also that Jesus heals them, “one and all.”
Jesus instructs and reassures those hearing from far and near that they are under a “good government!” God’s rule and reign. Isn’t that amazing! Folks just like you and me receive healing through the good life Christ initiates.
Back to rereading the Beatitudes, I feel as though Jesus holds me upside down, good-naturedly teasing me and tickling a vein of my theology that gushes with incredulity. Consider Christ’s good-news ankle-antics at the beginning of these verses:
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope…
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you…
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less…
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God…
7 “You’re blessed when you care…
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right…
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight…
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution…
Sometimes I say, “No, no I’m not. I am not blessed.” I feel as though my brokenness—my shame, my guilt, my false self indictments of acceptance, of approval, of accomplishments, my ego—my brokenness says “No” to what Christ is saying to me. How exactly am I blessed when I’m at the end of my rope under a stay-at-home order, not living the way I’d prefer? When I sip another glass of wine to satisfy me rather than to sup with him and work up a thirst for him? Why do I feel discontentment? These introductory parts of the Beatitudes befuddle me. However, by his grace Jesus heals.
As I ponder the second half of each Beatitudes verse, the Word speaks to me, and I listen. After all, I am his apprentice under his tutelage with his Beatitudes, not mine:
3 …With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 …Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 …That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 …He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 …At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 …Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 …That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 …The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
Jesus reaffirms that even in these days, during my COVIN-19-timeout-from-normalcy time, I can wade in living water. Just like I hold my grandson, Jesus offers a right-side up presence with him, holding me closely, my head at his bosom.
Perhaps these upside-down days reorient you to our Rabbi. Today, Jesus proclaims the same good news to those from the entire Roman province of Syria, to those apprenticing with him on the hill, and with you and me: I AM is with us.
Eventually, I find myself saying yes…yes, I desire more of God, his embrace, of soul satisfaction, of compassion, and of a community in his kingdom. Let yourself be held upside down by the one who holds you dear in his heart. It’s okay to live out the tension of the No’s and Yes’s of the Beatitudes. After all, we can’t earn the Beatitudes or wallow in some sort of self-pity. With his grace, let’s be present with him. Then, if you can risk a be-childlike-attitude, allow Jesus to give you a zerbert.