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Archive for December, 2012

I began with Psalm 130 because it begins with de profundis clamavi.

Out of the depths I cry…

Advent begins with a cry.

A cry out of the depths.

Depths of despair, of pain, of longing, of need, of sin.

 

I also chose Psalm 130 because it uses qavah.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits…

 

For those two reasons Psalm 130 has become a treasured scripture, a comfort and a prayer over the past several years.

For those two reasons I included it at the beginning of my Advent lectio readings.

For those two reasons I wasn’t sure what today’s lectio divina time would look like.

After all, I’ve read it so many times before…

 

But true to His sovereignty and faithfulness, God had new connections to show me and spoke this morning a refreshing of His truth.

 

I’ll admit I was a bit surprised when the Spirit pointed out verse 7.

Verse 7?

But that’s past all the good stuff! The de profundis and the mercy and forgiveness and the qavah! That’s into where the Psalm turns corporate, speaking to Israel and my mind begins to wander and I tend to overlook…

I tend to overlook…

 

For all my preliminary studies and my fascination with qavah, I have yet to fully explore and discover the relation and differences between qavah and yachal. When looked up in the lexicon, both mean “to wait, hope, expect.” Yet I find that in biblical usage qavah more often gets translated “wait” and yachal as “hope”.

Here in Psalm 130, verse 5:

qavah the Lord, my soul does qavah, and in HIs word do I yachal.

What I find remarkable about this is that verse 7 uses yachal.

O Israel, hope (yachal) in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.

Speaking now to his people, the Psalmist implores them to yachal.

To hope.

… and to wait.

And not just hope in anything or wait for anyone… but to hope in and wait for the Lord.

Why this implored expectation?

For with the Lord there is lovingkindness and… abundant redemption.

The bonus of using a translation that regularly translates the Hebrew hesed into a very distinct compound word like lovingkindness is that you can easily spot it anywhere.

Hesed is another beautiful word. The root word means “to be good, be kind” and it is variously translated as mercy, kindness, goodness and lovingkindness.

We’ll come across hesed again in a few weeks.

But I love it every time I see it.

God is faithful and merciful and lovingly kind.

That’s why Israel is to hope in the Lord.

That’s why we’re to hope in the Lord.

And with the Lord there is… abundant redemption.

Abundant.

Reminds me of what Jesus said about life and joy to the full. To the brim. Abundant.

Reminds me of how I kept repeating verse 7-8a as I taught Ephesians 1 in Sunday School yesterday, “the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us.”

Redemption.

Being redeemed. Bought back. Set free.

That’s why Israel is to hope in the Lord.

To wait for the Lord.

The Message writes Psalm 130:7-8 this way

O Israel, wait and watch for God—
with God’s arrival comes love,
with God’s arrival comes generous redemption.
No doubt about it—he’ll redeem Israel,
buy back Israel from captivity to sin.

And suddenly I find myself singing

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

They were right to hope… and to wait… and to expect.

O my heart, wait and watch for the Lord.

Hope in the Lord!

For with him there is lovingkindness and abundant redemption!

 

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It’s first week of Advent and our theme is hope.

Our word is qavah.

If you look up Hebrew words meaning “hope” in the BlueLetterBible.org lexicon, you will find many, many words.

None of them qavah.

Qavah is generally translated as “wait”.

But let me tell you a bit about qavah. I discovered qavah early on in the year. I’m not sure exactly what we were studying that day in Sunday School class, but one of the scriptures read aloud was Isaiah 40:31. It’s a familiar passage. “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” 

Except that’s not what was read aloud that day. I heard “But those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength” and it stuck out to me like a sore thumb. Hope. Hope? I thought it was wait?! Of course, the funny thing is that the NIV uses “hope” and that’s the translation I used regularly until I went off to college.

Nevertheless, it stood out and I immediately set about opening my Blue Letter Bible app to look up the Hebrew and find out why one says “hope” and the other says “wait”. Thus began my fascination with qavah. I looked it up, I googled it late one night in bed… and I began to see it everywhere. In verses… in life… in conversation… all through the year God has brought me back to (and deeper into) the concept of qavah.

Qavah means to wait, to look for, to expect, to hope.

It is not an idle waiting… there is an active looking, an expectation, a hope involved.

Nor is it a baseless or brash hope. It is an expectant hope that waits.

Qavah, to me, is beautiful.

When my friend and I now speak of healing or a good night’s sleep or breakthroughs or peace or a good day or freedom from various bondages, we speak of qavah. Because both waiting and hoping are involved… and intimately tied together.

Advent is a season of waiting… of looking for… of expecting… of hoping.

Advent is qavah.

We qavah God to come again, into our lives and into our world… healing, strengthening, renewing, reconciling, redeeming, completing…

So though you generally won’t find it if you look for Hebrew words translated “hope”, qavah is the perfect focus to begin our Advent reflections.

Here are this week’s lectio divina verses:

  • Monday – Psalm 130
  • Tuesday – Jeremiah 33:14-16
  • Wednesday – Isaiah 25:7-9
  • Thursday – Luke 1:11-17
  • Friday – Romans 8:20-25
  • Saturday – Revelation 21:3-5

(Read here to learn about the method of Lectio Divina.)

For Christians, hope is ultimately hope in Christ. The hope that he really is what for centuries we have been claiming he is. The hope that despite the fact that sin and death still rule the world, he somehow conquered them. The hope that in him and through him all of us stand a chance of somehow conquering them too. The hope that at some unforeseeable time and in some unimaginable way he will return with healing in his wings. ~ Frederick Beuchner

 

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Advent venit

Advent is upon us.

In Latin you could probably convey that thought with fun wording, perhaps like Advent venit.

Because the word Advent does come from the Latin.

Venio, the base word, means “to come.”

For hundreds of years Christians have approached Christmas through the season of Advent.

Advent leads up to our celebration of the first coming of Jesus.

Advent also looks forward to the second coming of Jesus.

The first time Jesus came humbly, as a helpless baby born to a poor family in an oppressed nation.

Next time Jesus will come as the victorious conquering king, bringing to completion what was started long ago.

We live in the “already and not yet” in between.

We live in the tension.

We feel the tension.

Thus the season of Advent becomes for us a season of longing, of waiting and of expectation.

We echo the cries of Israel long ago as they looked for, waited for, yearned for the coming Messiah. The promised one who would bring good news to the poor, free the captives, heal the sick, release the oppressed and proclaim that God was on the move! (Isaiah 61:1-2)

In this “already and not yet” tension we look for, wait for and yearn for the promised second coming when every tear will be wiped from our eyes, death will be finally abolished and there will no longer be anguish or sorrow or mourning or grief or pain. (Revelation 21:1-5)

Advent calls us to step out of the busy, out of the rush, out of the world’s madness and intentionally quiet ourselves in order to touch the ache, feel the longing, renew our looking, recall our hope and simply wait on God. We yearn and we pray and we reflect and we listen. We listen for God’s heartbeat in the silence. We watch for how he births new life in us and in those around us and for how he uses interruptions and circumstances and humble, out-of-the-way corners to reveal gifts and graces.

Over the years, different traditions and different people have approached Advent differently. Oh, there is always the longing and the waiting and the quieting and the expectation…

But sometimes we follow and learn from those who waited: A childless couple longing for a child, a dumbstruck man expecting a son, a young virgin anticipating a miracle baby, an old man waiting for the consolation of Israel, magi looking for signs in the sky…

And sometimes we follow four themes: hope, peace, joy and love.

This year, in an effort to continue my lectio divina during my mornings with God and because I was having trouble finding an Advent plan suited for that style of meditation, I created my own.

When I was reflecting on how to go about creating my own Advent readings, I realized that the four themes of Advent closely resemble four themes that God has been slowly but consistently bringing me back to over and over throughout this year. A rough year for me where longing and yearning and ache (for myself, for my loved ones, for the world) are very near. Thus my walk through Advent walks me through once again listening for God to speak to these areas.

My intention is to post here each Sunday a reflection on that week’s theme and then list the lectio readings for Monday through Saturday of that week.

The exception being that the fourth week only has one lectio day and then we switch focus to the Incarnation and God’s presence through Epiphany.

But I would invite you join with me during this season of Advent as we yearn for and seek God…

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