Monday, November 28, 2005


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yItIv Daq the joH always! Again jIH DichDaq jatlh, yItIv!
Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, Rejoice! Philippians 4:4

I may have mentioned before that I am a big fan of mnemonics, the science and study of memorization - exercising your mind by memorizing things: calendars, digits of pi (I once could rattle over 200), poems, and of course Bible verses.

People can be intimidated by such a challenge, though some will take a stab at it by finding short verses like John 11:35, "Jesus wept." This verse from Paul's letter to the Philippians would make another good candidate. Though longer, it has a nice redundancy that makes it an easy target to learn (there's even a song, but I won't share that now).

Having just finished Psalm 117, the shortest chapter in the Bible (another good memorization choice, that) with its cheer and exultation of the LORD, Paul's words make a good echo when he calls to us to

yItIv Daq the joH always! Again jIH DichDaq jatlh, yItIv!
Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, Rejoice! Philippians 4:4

Perhaps you don't think of Klingons as being a cheerful lot, and you're surprised they'd have a word for "rejoice." But tough as they seem, like most people's languages, their's prepares them to talk about happiness and enjoyment. The word I used here for "rejoice," yItIv, is an imperative form of the word tIv "to enjoy" - it's intended as a command to be happy. I've used the same expression in the phrase "yItIv QoSlIj" - Happy Birthday (literally your-birthday, you-enjoy-it!)

In the Greek here, the word is chairo, a primitive verb meaning to be "cheer"ful. It appears over 60 times in the Greek scriptures, as a greeting and expression of cheer. It shows up first in Matthew's gospel, telling of the first "star trek" as the magi follow the star to see Jesus -

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

Like those travelers, here in this verse, Paul directs us to rejoice. He repeats himself to emphasize what joy we should have. The Message translation puts it this way:

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!

This isn't just a duty - be happy or else. It is our privelege as believers. In Barnes' New Testament Notes, we read this rejoicing shouldn't be:
at certain periods and at distant intervals, but at all times they may rejoice that there is a God and Saviour; they may rejoice in the character, law, and government of God--in his promises, and in communion with him.
The reason is, as we noted in Psalm 117, God's care and love for us is enduring:
If everything else changes, yet the Lord does not change; if the sources of all other joy are dried up, yet this is not; and there is not a moment of a Christian's life in which he may not find joy in the character, law, and promises of God.
yItIv Daq the joH always! Again jIH DichDaq jatlh, yItIv!
Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, Rejoice! Philippians 4:4

Paul didn't write that as he rested at some comfortable desk. He was in a prison cell - yet he knew a joy more profound than the most fortunate or wealthy can imagine. As he wrote:

Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. (Philippians 4:11-13, The Message)

What keeps me from experiencing this same joy? This is what we need to learn as we read the Scriptures - so we too can say yItIv! Rejoice!

Monday, November 21, 2005


joH'a' voqtaHghach SIQtaH reH.
The Lord's faithfulness endures forever. Psalm 117:2b

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In the movie Sleeper, Woody Allen plays a man who is thawed out 200 years in the future.

"Everyone you ever knew is dead," he's told by the scientists.

"How could that be? They all ate organic rice."

One scientist explains to another, "That was one of the magical substances they thought could preserve life."

"Didn't they have fudge, no deep fat?" "Oh, yes, but they thought those were harmful."

"Exactly the opposite of what we now know."

Sometimes it may seem like that: we get the feeling that every new year overturns the certain trust we have in any number of truths.

This is another reason the author of this psalm is so filled with praise for God - His truth endures.

In Hebrew this is "vemeth adonai l'olam," literally "and-truth of-the-LORD to-everlasting."

In other words, God is faithful, you can depend on him - as the KJV puts it "the truth of the LORD endureth for ever". Since the WEB renders this as "faithfulness," for the KLV I used the Klingon word voq (trust) and the suffix taH (on-going). With the nominalizer -ghach, we have the noun voqtaHghach, faithfulness.

What's your most reliable source? Who do you depend on for information when you need it? I've got a set of encyclopedias - but they're almost old enough to vote. I've got TV, radio, newpapers, not to mention a seemingly endless flow of information from the internet - subject, of course, to the ups and downs of networks and the eb and flow of the wikipedia and other website updates.

And, I've got the Scriptures. When it comes to understanding the things that matter, when it comes to learning about God and our relationship to him, I'm not going to find a better source. Unlike all those other info-sources - which are ultimately disposable - with the Word, I've got not A truth, but the Truth; the one I can voq, trust, not just for today, but forever.

joH'a' voqtaHghach SIQtaH reH.
The Lord's faithfulness endures forever. Psalm 117:2b


Monday, November 14, 2005

that's what its all about

vaD Daj muSHa'taH pung ghaH Dun toward maH.
For his loving kindness is great toward us. Psalm 117:2a

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"love, love, love - that's what it's all about..."

(don't worry - this isn't turning into a music podcast)

If you've done time in Sunday School (student or teacher) chances are you've heard that song.

Like the "Hokey Pokey" it purports to tell you what "it's all about" and as fun as the "Hokey Pokey" might be - I suspect that "love" is a better answer to that question.

Having heard this psalm tell us to praise God, now we hear why.

his loving kindness is great toward us.

Now. Klingons have a problem with "love." Or more precisely, tlhIngan Hol, the Klingon Language does. The word isn't in the dictionary. That's not a problem in the Biblical languages. Hebrew, and Greek have multiple words translated as forms of 'love' in English, one Hebrew word in particular is rendered "loving kindness" here.

Klingon has some nouns for "love" as in "one's beloved" - bang, or romantic love - parmaq. But there isn't an all encompassing (maybe too encompassing) word to match the English "love."
Two explanations for this come to mind. The obvious one - this tough, brutal race finds such a notion, well, alien, and don't have a word for it.

Yet they have words for peace as well as war - so I think that can't be it. I prefer to think (and this is just my theory) that they are so full of love (albeit a more ferocious type than weak humans understand) that they only need to express the lack of hate (muS) to express love. Lacking this verb, many Klingonists do use muSHa' (dis- or un- hate) to have a verb "to love."

So, muSHa'taH - on-going love is the word used here for lovingkindness in today's portion of Psalm 117.

vaD Daj muSHa'taH pung ghaH Dun toward maH.
For his loving kindness is great toward us. Psalm 117:2a

hesed, is the Hebrew word behind this "lovingkindness" - and it is a powerful term. Used more than 200 times in the Bible it goes a long way to explain why the author is so excited about God's "steadfast love" (another way hesed is translated).

God's loving kindness, his steadfast love is our bedrock. The psalmist cheers, and calls out to everyone near and far to celebrate the foundation of loving kindness, of steadfast love, with which God supports us, as another psalm reminds us of the encompassing power of God's hesed:

How precious is your loving kindness, God!
The children of men take refuge under the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7 WEB)

This is the value of Scripture. With the Word, and the living traditions of our faith, we learn how God has saved his people through the ages. Filled with promises for each day, the Bible helps us look forward to how God will continue to sustain us in his steadfast love.

muSHa'taH / on-going love / hesed

does not stop. We can look forward to what is to come - not always what we expect, or what WE think is best. But God will not fail.

vaD Daj muSHa'taH pung ghaH Dun toward maH.
For his loving kindness is great toward us. Psalm 117:2a

Monday, November 07, 2005

all you peoples!

Extol ghaH, Hoch SoH ghotpu'!
Extol him, all you peoples! Psalm 117:1c

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Forty-two years ago I had traveled around the sun as many times as there were planets: nine. Today, I'd need to live another century to be able to say that. By the time I managed to DO that, (if I could) well, as more telescopes and more observers turn their gaze outward, I expect I'd have to add a millenium or two to keep up.

We live in an unprecedented age of exploration. Besides the 150-plus worlds now known to be circling other stars, we are learning and mapping more about the ones in our own back yard - and there's more than nine! With Sedna, Quoar and Xena we've discovering in what a fascinating neighborhood God has put our little planet.

Looking out into this bustling cosmos, Dava Sobel writes:
Sometimes the stupefying view into deep space can send me burrowing like a small animal into the warm safety of Earth's nest. But just as often I feel the Universe pull me by the heart, offering, in all its other Earths elsewhere, some larger community to belong to.
(Dava Sobel, The Planets)

Extol ghaH, Hoch SoH ghotpu'!
Extol him, all you peoples! Psalm 117:1c

No, the author of Psalm 117 did not know about the worlds of our solar system, nor the worlds beyond. Extol him, all you peoples! Psalm 117:1c But this writer did know about "worlds" of cultures and nations. We've heard the command to all nations to praise God, and here we hear "all you peoples" to extol him.

Extol. Not a common word - in English or Hebrew. The KLV generally only translates frequent words - and "extol" is only used eight times in the WEB. In Hebrew the word here is shabach: to address in a loud tone, and shows up eleven times in the Bible. In the KJV it is translated as commend, glory, keep in, praise, still, triumph. Taking the meaning as "to commend," we might say this in Klingon with "quvmoH," cause to be honored: quvmoH ghaH, Hoch SoH ghotpu' to express this idea to, literally, give a shout-out to the LORD!

The psalmist probably didn't have access to "all you peoples" - any more than we can reach every world that we know about with the good news of God's love. The scope of the universe is so great - there are so many worlds, so many stars, so many people - just on this one planet - that we may feel there is no way we can begin.

Mother Teresa said: We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.

As much as you can, call out today, SHOUT out today, in joy, in praise, to the LORD. Against the billions on this earth, against the vastness of the Universe and all its countless stars and worlds, this might not seem like much. But it is a start. Let creation, and the creator pull you out into his larger community of praise, to love, to sing and to give thanks!

quvmoH ghaH, Hoch SoH ghotpu'
Extol him, all you peoples! Psalm 117:1c