Monday, September 26, 2011

Mid-Course Correction!

ghaH Dev jIH Daq the Hemey vo' QaQtaHghach
He guides me in the paths of righteousness

podcast version

"Mid-course correction." Anyone interested in space exploration has heard those words. Routine events, mid-course corrections are necessary because the slightest error of trajectory can result at journey's end in missing the destination completely.

In Psalm 23 we find God provides just this kind of direction for life. Hemey vo' QaQtaHghach, paths of righteousness, are just where we will be guided, if we follow the good Shepherd. He doesn't simply watch over us in some lovely pasture for all time. We need to get on the move, and if we do, he'll keep us on course.

Hemey (kay-may), the word used here for paths, comes from He (kay) the Klingon word for what we call in English a "course," The compass direction in which a ship or an aircraft moves. This fits in with the original Hebrew word, ma`gal, which means 'track'. Picture paths cut along a mountainside. Not every one is the correct one to take. At each turn you need to check that you're taking the right one, or risk getting lost, or worse, falling headlong off a cliff.

Mid course corrections - they're needed, but only if you're on the move, if you're travelling. Staying put, you don't need directions - but you won't get anywhere.

The people asked prophet Jeremiah to have "God ... show the way in which we should walk, the thing we should do." (Jer. 42:3)

It's what we need to ask each day - which way should we go, what do we need to do to stay on course. If we do, we'll find he will lead us in Hemey vo' QaQtaHghach, paths of righteousness and, as Isaiah wrote:

...he will teach us of his ways,
And we will walk in his paths. (2:3)

originally podcast March 30, 2005

Saturday, September 17, 2011

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

Saturday, September 10, 2011

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.