Monday, March 05, 2007

a risky re-translation?

I love the passage from Isaiah 55 that we'll read this Sunday. It's all about God's abundant goodness--and how God intends us all to be well and to enjoy the rich simplicities of life.

But I always cringe at the first word.

In the Bible we use, the NRSV, this grace-infused passage begins: "Ho!"


Whether I associate it with Santa, gardening, or something more promiscuous, this word hardy prepares me for what's to come.

So I looked up the Hebrew. You can, too. And I propose a new translation. (At least, for So-Cal readers, turle-lovers who've watched "Finding Nemo" or for people who watch Lost and love Hurley.)

We need a quick interjection that catches our attention and prepares us to hear the word-encrusted gems of God's abundance.

I propose "Dude."

Now, at the risk of sounding irreverant or trivializing, I think it's a good choice.

To say, "Dude!" is to call attention--to say "No, really! Check this out!"

I also like that it is unpretentious, and disarming. This isn't the message of sophisticated folks who have it figured out, pinned down and diagrammed. This is a poem that asks us to realize the grace that's all around us, that comes when we share the good stuff of life.

Beautiful, dude.

Our passage ends with verse 9, which reminds us, with gratitude, that we don't do or understand things like God.

Which, in my humble opinion, prepares us to hear the harsh words Jesus speaks in Luke's gospel this week: we have to repent.

Not because we are unworthy, or wretched beyond hope, but because none of us is God. And, all of us (individually, and together) are a whole lot better of when we remember, daily and in every moment, to turn towards God.

Repentance is about big things. (Last week, as we lamented together, we thought of big stuff like hunger, war, child poverty...) But all of these "big" things also begin with little, individual, daily movements toward God's grace.

So, oddly, we find ways to celebrate the joy to be found in life, as we remember to repent. It's good stuff.

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