Friday, February 22, 2013

Reflections for Lent

Experiencing the 13th Psalm in a New Way 

I was affected rather strongly by something I read recently. I've been reading through the Bible with a group of about twenty-five friends, and a particular psalm, Psalm 13, verses 5 and 6, have stayed with me, especially. Here they are:

"But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me."

Steadfast love. These two words jumped out at me in the verses, and I’ll explain why. First of all, my Lutheran (ELCA)Study Bible has a sideline of notes for the reader, and I always read them because there’s much to learn there. This is what I found: “The concept that most briefly and clearly sums up God’s character is ‘steadfast love,’ based on the Hebrew term chesed. This term describes the character of one who keeps promises, proves faithful, establishes justice, and defends the vulnerable” (pg. 860). Chesed is also commonly translated as “lovingkindness.” Chesed is central to Jewish ethics and theology, and it is considered to be a primary virtue in Jewish thinking. In fact, chesed as a virtue is so foundational that it is believed to contribute to the “repairing of the world” (Wikipedia). Steadfast love and lovingkindness; this is God’s promise for all of Creation, and we need to keep pinching ourselves as a reminder that this promise is for us – that we are the recipients of this Great Love, and that we can “repair the world” when we show chesed to one another and to those outside of our church family, too. I like that thought: that we can contribute to the ”repairing of the world.” In what ways does that phrase resonate within you? Repairing the world. Definitely not something we do by ourselves, is it? With the Holy Spirit's power and guiding force within us and fueled by God’s steadfast love, we can reach out with care and kindness to all those we encounter in our workplaces, neighborhoods, and church community, making a difference by being the loving hands and face of Christ in the world. Keep this close to your heart as a Lenten practice, perhaps. And I'll join you.

In Lenten reflection with you,

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