‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, film about the life of Farrokh Bulsara, aka ‘Freddie Mercury’, had me foot tapping, hand clapping & chanting to some great ‘Queen’ Rock anthems. Queen’s Greatest Hits helped save many long distance car journeys, our kids belting out ‘Crazy little thing called love’, ‘We are the Champions’, ‘Another one bites the dust’, and playing air guitar to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. It’s hard to believe how shy and fragile Freddie really was, such was his public persona and showmanship.
“You can have everything in the world and still be the loneliest man. And that is the most bitter type of loneliness, success has brought me world idolisation and millions of pounds. But it’s prevented me from having the one thing we all need: A loving, ongoing relationship.” (F Mercury)
Last week one of my Fathers in The Faith ‘Eugene Peterson’ was translated to Glory. For me, Peterson’s writings are a crucial soul-saver and antidote to the drivenness of modern ministry, his translation of the Bible ‘The Message’ (in my view) the best English paraphrase around. At Regent College, Vancouver, where he lectured, after 29 years minister of a Presbyterian church in Maryland, Peterson would turn up early for lectures to mingle with staff and students. There was an unhurried timelesseness about him as he practised the ‘unforced rhythms of grace’.
Here’s his translation of Matthew 11:28-30: Jesus says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Once Eugene declined to meet with band U2’s ‘Bono’ (whom he’d never heard of) due to keeping a deadline to translate Isaiah for The Message! Eventually Peterson did meet Bono to discuss the Psalms (See Youtube). But, what if Mercury had had plugged into Jesus’ ‘unforced rhythms of grace’? Mercury did write ‘Jesus’:
“And then I saw Him in the crowd, a lot of people had gathered ’round Him. The beggars shouted, the lepers called Him, The old man said nothing, he just stared about Him. All going down to see the Lord Jesus (Going down). Then came a man before his feet he fell, unclean, said the leper and rang his bell. Felt the palm of a hand touch his head, Go now, go now, you’re a new man instead. All going down to see the Lord Jesus…”
Good friend Alan Campbell coined this verse in response to Jesus’ ‘unforced rhythms of grace’:
“Help me when my heart sings out in a different key.
Help me find the note that brings me harmony.
Still my noisy mind to hear your steady tone.
Allow your grace to shape my life, your rhythm find a home.”