Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rebuilt - Like New!

ghaH chenqa' wIj qa'

He restores my soul

podcast version

Let's meditate on the mortality of cars. Expensive things - necessities for many of us - which, once purchased, immediately depreciate. As soon as you own them and use them, they are worth less and less. Each day reduces the resale value. It is a fact of life that things like these can almost never be sold at anything like their original price.

However, there are exceptions. Near my home is a fairgrounds which, every spring, is filled with proud collectors, men and women, who have taken beat up old jalopies and poured money, love and no small amount of work to transform these junkers into masterpieces - the most fabulous classic cars you could hope to see.

ghaH chenqa' wIj qa' / He restores my soul

The Klingon word used here in Psalm 23 for "restore," chenqa' (chehn-khah-uh) means "build again," that is RE-build. This is what God wants to do with us. Classic car enthusiasts are not the only ones who love to restore things - it's the work that the Lord wants to do with you and me. As St. Paul wrote "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Feeling like a wreck? Think there's no hope that you could be worth more than your "scrap value?" Think again - God's ready to chenqa' lIj qa' - restore your soul and make you like new today!

Originally podcast March 23rd, 2005

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Still Here?

ghaH Dev jIH retlh vIHHa' bIQmey

He leads me beside still waters.


podcast version

                                                 (originally podcast 3/20/2005)
Food and drink.

Those three words are a very brief abbreviation of Psalm 23:2. When we know God our shepherd leads us to good pasture (food) and alongside still waters (drink), we know he intends to care for us completely.

This illustrates a common Biblical device, parallelism. Two or more clauses that repeat or reinforce one idea - sort of like rhyming ideas. It is a kind of poetry that can survive translation into any language, even perhaps non-human ones.

There is a problem here - there isn't a Klingon word for "still." But the language is rich enough that we can take the word vIH (vick), "to move," and add the suffix "-Ha'" to reverse the meaning, giving us "vIHHa'" [vick-Kha-uh]. I like this because it isn't just "not moving" (that would be vIHbe' [vick-beh-uh],) but un-moving (if there were such a word). It suggests to me something that has the power to move but holds it in. This is something that hasn't just stopped, it stands firm.

vIHHa' bIQmey, still waters, present an appealing image. Whether a placid stream, an ocean vista, or lakeside retreat, we're drawn to these restful scenes. Just as this verse's promise of lying "down in green pasture" was a promise of rest, these words about waters that offer to quench our thirst do so with a vision of stillness, of rest.

Life-giving water is what we're looking for, and is just what God wants us to have. "Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters," [Isaiah 55:1] the Lord says in Isaiah. Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman promising something better than ordinary H2O: "Everyone who drinks of this [well's] water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." [John 4:13,14]

Sound like what you're looking for? Then turn to that one, that good shepherd, who will lead you retlh vIHHa' bIQmey, beside the still waters.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Sleeping dogs

ghaH chen jIH Qot bIng Daq SuD tI yotlh

He makes me lie down in green pastures

podcast version

The words "sleeping dogs" immediately call to mind the expression "let sleeping dogs lie." No doubt Klingons know the wisdom expressed in this proverb: don't stir up trouble when you don't have to.

Klingons do, after all, know about pets (the Klingon word for pet is Saj), though their 'dog' is the targh, a fairly fearsome creature; definitely not something to rile unnecessarily.

Let's consider "sleeping dogs" (the undisturbed kind) as an illustration of today's Klingon word: Qot, 'to lie.'

David in Psalm 23 considers God's care for him saying that God:

makes me
lie down in green pastures

Qot bIng Daq SuD tI yotlh


The English word 'lie' occurs over 100 times in the World English Bible translation of the Hebrew scriptures, mostly referring to an action like or involving reclining (as opposed to telling a falsehood). The Hebrew text of this psalm uses a specific verb, rabats, that is only used around 30 times. The notion in this word is that of a recumbent animal. This image would be familiar to a shepherd like David. Hovever, I'm not a shepherd, so I find the image of a recumbent animal that comes to my mind is that of a sleeping dog.

The utter peace of my own dog is something I find delightful. Once comfortable, he relaxes so completely that it compels me to settle down beside him as well. That is the sort of peace, of rest, that David is telling us he finds because he knows that the Good Shepherd is leading him.

And it's a peace offered to us as well. Just as God promised the Hebrews in the book of Exodus:

God said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
(Exodus 33:14)

Are you looking to Qot Bing Daq roj, to lie down in peace? Then listen to the Good Shepherd:

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened,
and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:30)
(repodcast - original date 3/18/05)