Reverend Dr. William A. Evertsberg

God’s Odd Benedictions, VII: The Emissaries

The Greek goddess Eirene and the Roman goddess Pax are always depicted as female in sculpture and painting. She holds a scepter in one hand, because peace rules. She holds a cornucopia in the other because you can only have plenty when there is peace. And she clutches a baby in her arm, because when there is peace, all creation is fertile. The soil is fecund, babies are born, the crops grow tall, and the animals give birth to their young.

Blessed are the peace-makers, he says, not the Peace-lovers. It’s not enough to love peace, or want peace; you have to make peace; you have to work at it.

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God’s Odd Benedictions, VI: The Unalloyed

The word for ‘pure’ that Jesus uses here in the sixth beatitude means in Greek just what it means in English, as when we say, “Her heart was pure gold.” We mean that her es-sence is unalloyed, not contaminated with traces of zinc, iron, lead, or whatever it is that makes gold less than 24-karat.

Her heart is unadulterated, free from any hint of other color or substance, untarnished by any fleck of stain. There is only one thing in there, and nothing else, nothing else at all. No alloys, additives, preservatives, contaminants; nothing shameful, nothing false, nothing unclean. She is like Dany Targaryen’s troops: The Unsullied.

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God’s Odd Benedictions, IV: The Hungry

This is the most sensible and least odd of God’s Odd Benedictions. We get this one. Of course Jesus would love the righteous. Of course God would bless them. But that’s not exactly what Jesus says. He doesn’t say, “Blessed are the righteous.” He says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. It’s not enough to be righteous. You have to be desperate for it. You have to ache for it. Without righteousness, these kinds of folk have a visceral and existential, almost carnal, emptiness in the pit of their stomach.

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God’s Odd Benedictions, III: The Meek

When you study Jesus’ Beatitudes, you have to pay attention first to the eccentricity of the folk who receive a blessing—the poor, the sad, the meek, for example. And then you have to attend to the particular blessing each kind of blessed person uniquely receives.
The poor says Jesus, will receive the kingdom. The sad will be consoled. And the meek—what do they get? They get everything. The meek will inherit the earth.

Eugene Peterson translates this beatitude like this: “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” Everything that can’t be bought.

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God’s Odd Benedictions, II: The Sad

The First Sunday in Lent
Said one Jewish scholar, “It is frustration and sorrow that are our passports to fellowship and sympathy. Life teaches us at every turn how insufferable are those who have never suffered.” Yes? Have you experienced the in-sufferability of the unsuffering: the frozen face, the unmoved affect, the narcotic numb-ness of the unsuffering?

When Katie Lancaster and Melanie Flynn train our Stephen Ministers, they know that one of the greatest obstacles they have to overcome is a stubborn lack of self-confidence. “I can’t do this,” they think. “I didn’t go to seminary. I don’t have the skills.”

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