The Language of God

In stages of glory, I grieve for you my friend. In surprising fashion as God always is, I grieve for you in the native tongue of our Lord. It is a deep expression of who we are as Jewish people, strong, glorious, deeply bonded to Him. I can find no other way to grieve but in the beloved language of my Lord Jesus. Thank you God for giving me words in a language that is too glorious for them.

For those that have never heard Adon Olam, I have included this beautiful rendition with the English translation. God is so beautiful in His native language, when He is unclothed, available and crying back out to us. When in doubt, praise Him, and praise Him again. These are the words I have heard from Him today.

Recently in my interview on EWTN, I talked about my prayer life in Hebrew and growing up in the conservative Jewish temple. I specifically spoke about my ability to read and pray in Hebrew but my inability to understand it. Yet, I felt closest to God when I was praying in Hebrew. I questioned whether God even understood English 🙂

I have realized that in our mourning we go back to what we know and who we are. It was no coincidence for me that I attended a Shiva last night after a friend’s mom died. Even though I didn’t join the minyan, I chanted in the back. It was chilling. But it wasn’t the mourner’s kaddish that moved me, it was the Jewish liturgical hymn “Adon Olam,” a praise song. Why did that connect with me? Why did that move me? I didn’t know it last night, but right after I came home from the Shiva is when I found out Susan died. And in the morning it was Adon Olam:

MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE
Adon olam, asher malach,
b’terem kol y’tzir nivra.
L’et na’asah v’cheftzo kol,
azai melech sh’mo nikra.V’acharey kichlot hakol,
l’vado yimloch nora.
V’hu haya, v’hu hoveh,
v’hu yih’yeh b’tifara.

V’hu echad, v’eyn sheni
l’hamshil lo, l’hachbira.
B’li reishit, b’li tachlit,
v’lo ha’oz v’hamisrah.

V’hu Eli, v’chai go’ali,
v’tzur chevli b’et tzarah.
V’hu nisi umanos li,
m’nat kosi b’yom ekra.

B’yado afkid ruchi
b’et ishan v’a’irah.
V’im ruchi g’viyati,
Adonai li v’lo ira.The Lord of the Universe who reigned
before anything was created.
When all was made by his will
He was acknowledged as King.

And when all shall end
He still all alone shall reign.
He was, He is,
and He shall be in glory.

And He is one, and there’s no other,
to compare or join Him.
Without beginning, without end
and to Him belongs diminion and power.

And He is my G-d, my living G-d.
to Him I flee in time of grief,
and He is my miracle and my refuge,
who answers the day I shall call.

To Him I commit my spirit,
in the time of sleep and awakening,
even if my spirit leaves,
G-d is with me, I shall not fear.

It is understandbly confusing how one could express their grief in a language they do not understand but completely understand. Every word touched me. And even though you may not be Jewish, if you listen to the words of Adon Olam, they will move you too.

There is a move of the Spirit in Hebrew that is undeniable, I can hear Jesus speaking. And as I recited the rosary this morning for my dear sister, I cried out in Hebrew afterwards to God as if I already knew the words. I think grief produces in us the ability to connect with a part of us we don’t necessarily understand but want to touch. When I look up at the crucifix, I could cry this out to Jesus, God you are my God, adonai , King of the universe, abba it hurts, it hurts abba…

But I am gratful. I am grateful for the words God wrote that I never could. I am grateful for words that flow off my tongue and have meaning besides consonants and vowels. I am grateful for the Blessed Mother who stayed with me during the sorrowful mysteries and cried with me, Adon Olam.

 

Those who love God’s name will dwell in it

Sleeping, Bible, LoveHow do you dwell in a name? How do you stay there when it is uncomfortable, oppressive, against your own will? How do you stay inside something that you cannot see? 

What keeps you coming back for more? This name that may or may not have been revealed to you. This place that draws you in. You may not know the name, but He knows yours. Could you love and be attracted to a God that you do not know and you cannot see?

For all the reasons to read the bible, there is one for me above all the others, because He lives there.  We may not understand or see clearly or know exactly what is going on, but we will definitely not know anything if we don’t read at all…

People want answers from God. They want signs. Their bibles sit with dust in their homes or maybe they don’t have a bible at all, those are for the weird folks. You want God to walk into your house and give you an answer. You want him to hold you. You want Him to comfort you and tell you everything will be ok…But don’t dare open a bible. That thing is outdated, inapplicable and wholly unreadable. You have errands to do. Doesn’t God know how busy you are? How many children you have? What demands your job brings you? How could He ever expect that you would be seen purchasing one of those old books let alone reading it!

Which reminds me of the story of Naaman. ..

Naaman was the commander of Syria’s army and suffered from leprosy. He had an Israelite servant girl who suggested he go to the prophet Elisha to be healed. So Naaman goes to Israel to seek out Elisha. When he gets there, Elisha does not come out himself but sends a message to go wash in the Jordan river seven times in order to be healed. Naaman is in disbelief that this is the answer and rattles off what He thinks Elisha should have said and done. After his servants ask him to reconsider Elisha’s advice, he decides to wash himself in the Jordan river seven times as Elisha had instructed him. He was completely healed. And he then acknowledged the God of Israel as the true God.

I tell you this story from 2 Kings because it’ ridiculous. It sounds ridiculous. The instructions given by Elisha, a prophet of God are too simple, and sound ridiculous. Naaman couldn’t believe that this is all that it took. And at the end of the day, he knew he had no other option. And the outcome was an outcome glorified in the Lord, in His name.

But I wouldn’t have known that or got that message had I not been familiar with the story. Had I not accepted the ridiculous proposition that a 2,000 year old book had any kind of answers in it. That I was not excluded as a Jewish person from the promises of Christ, but rather He came for me FIRST. That there would be days of direct answers to prayers in the most ludicrous of ways through the words of those pages. That the words somehow would transform themselves to speak to me; that they had breadth and depth, even on the days I did not understand them. That my medication would be found in this book, that the book knew the correct dosage, that all I had to do was ask for Him to dispense it. Ludicrous…

“My written Word is your daily fortification to guide the decisions of your heart.” From the devotional “Talk to me Jesus” by Marie Chapian

A Line in the Sand

or – Our Three Denials

Line in the Sand

Often, we Christians draw a line in sand around political issues we mistake for biblical issues. Abortion, homosexuality, gun control, Muslims, Israel. Certainly we can find isolated Bible verses that support our position; we quote them often enough. I admit I have.

But I’m here to tell you I’m a red-letter kind of gal. And when I want Truth, I go back to those red letters in my Bible time and time again. And as I reread them and ask the Spirit for clarity to understand them, I continue to see, over and over, the three lines in the sand Jesus drew.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45, Luke 6:27)

As we continue to vilify all who are not like us, treat “them” like groups who need to be condemned, isolated, in some cases obliterated, we act in fear. But Jesus calls us to act in love. He calls us to pray for enemies, whoever we might consider to be a foe, whether a rival, assailant, detractor, terrorist or sinner. We are called to be more than our basest instincts chain us to be.

“I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn’t give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t take care of me. They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn’t help you?’ ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.” (Matthew 25:42-45)

Exactly how many starving immigrants do we have to deny from our warm, spacious homes? How many millions of refugees fleeing for their lives will continue to wander in deserts, in oceans with no opportunity for safety? How many hundreds of thousands of children will have to die before we allow the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts from fear to love?

“So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.” (John 13:34-35)

How can we say we love Jesus if we turn our backs on His words? How we can we say we follow Him if we refuse to stand with Him? Peter denied Jesus three times, but that was before he knew what we know. Before the Holy Spirit took up residence in him. Before Jesus allowed him to declare his love three times face to face to repent of those denials.

We need to stop condemning, stop finger-pointing and extend the same loving, grace-filled invitation Jesus extended to Levi the tax collector. And break bread at the same table.

In the face of those lines in the sand, will we continue to deny Jesus three times over and over knowing what we know?