Standing within your gates: hesed

‘Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.
His love endures for ever.’
Psalm 136.1

A sculpture I saw at Kibbutz Ginosar when I went to look at the ancient boat.

A sculpture I saw at Kibbutz Ginosar when I went to look at the ancient boat.

I am writing this as I prepare to fly home tomorrow at the end of an amazing time in Israel. I have learnt huge amounts and met many extraordinary people; I have much food for thought and there have been some challenges too. Above all, I am full of thanks to the Lord for he is good. His love endures for ever.

The Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum is home to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Bible is full of stories of God's hesed.

The Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum is home to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Bible is full of stories of God’s love, goodness and faithfulness.

The Mum’s Bible study group have been looking at the book of Ruth this term and I have been studying it along with them whilst I have been here. One of the central themes of Ruth is kindness and in particular the idea of hesed. This Hebrew word is often translated as loving kindness or loving mercy; it contains the ideas of faithfulness and steadfastness. It was used to describe the relationship between individuals but is particularly used of the covenantal relationship God has with his people. It is the word hesed that is used by the Psalmist when he declares: Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His hesed endures forever.

When God put the rainbow in the sky it was to remind him of his covenant with Noah. This mosaic is in the Armenian Chapel of the Church of the Resurrection.

When God put the rainbow in the sky it was to remind him of his covenant with Noah. This mosaic is in the Armenian Chapel of the Church of the Resurrection.

Hesed is an idea that has been important to me for sometime and I have come to deeper understandings of it during my time away. I have experienced so much kindness throughout my placement: kindness from people; kindness from God that I am full of thanks. So this post is my version of a psalm of praise:

I thank God for he is good. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for calling me to Israel. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for all who have enabled me to come to Israel and who have supported me whilst I was away. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for all who have prayed for me whilst I have been away. His hesed endures forever.
I thank God for the people I have spent time with and their generosity in sharing their lives and stories with me. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for all the testimonies I have heard and for the ways in which he is transforming lives. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for the kindness of those I have met, for the ways they have helped me and made my placement more fruitful. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for unexpected conversations and pleasures. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for all I have learnt and the opportunities to see him at work. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for the chance to worship him with brothers and sisters from different places and backgrounds. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for his church in this place. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for his faithfulness and loving kindness to me. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for his presence and protection. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for unexpected treats like a room with a seaview. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for strength and wisdom at difficult moments. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for challenging me and not giving up on me. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for transforming me a little bit more. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for revealing a more of his character and will to me. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank God for these and all his abundant blessings. His hesed endures for ever.
I thank the God of heaven. His hesed endures for ever and ever. Amen.

View from the hostel roof terrace in Tiberias over the Sea of Galilee.

View from the hostel roof terrace in Tiberias over the Sea of Galilee.

[Please note that whilst I am really looking forward to seeing the good folk of the Itchen Valley again very soon, I am not back in the parish until Tuesday to allow me time to catch up a little after my time away!]

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