The practice of the faith community I am serving is to give study Bibles to the high school graduates as they go off into the world of higher education, military or community service, or directly into the workforce. A noble and worthy gift but one that becomes a loving act by how the Bibles are transformed. New Bibles are purchased, but before they are wrapped in pretty paper and ribbons, they are broken-in and used. Members of the community are asked to write notes in them, highlight favorite passages, bookmark pages and in love share their faith with those commencing from secondary education into whatever their adult journey may be.
I thought of the Hebrew word hesed as I helped break-in these Bibles. Hesed: a word of love that does not convey love in a personal, schmaltzy, or superficial way, but rather in an active and communal way. It was amplified as I highlighted a favorite Hebrew Scripture verse: Micah 6:8
God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and walk humbly with God?
Walk with God… hesed. It was amplified further as I highlighted a favorite Gospel passage: John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
God with us always… hesed!
Hesed: the consistent, ever-faithful, loyal, loving devotion, relentless, constantly-pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, steadfast, compassionate love of our God and creator. This term is used to describe God’s faithful actions on behalf of you, me and all God’s people. This term is used to describe our faithful actions on behalf of God, or in other words, God’s work, our hands. It is our loving reaction to God’s love graciously given to and for us. Hesed is relational love. It is love lived in community with God and with other people.
God who demonstrated hesed to the people of the Hebrew Scriptures continued to do so in through the Word becoming flesh and living among us. Hesed marks life together as God’s people, committed to a quality of life shaped by principles of mutual respect, helpfulness, and loving concern. Hesed is shared as we live in community as the body of Christ comforted that darkness can not overcome the light. Hesed is something desperately needed in a world that hungers for love. As a people of faith, the flames of love are fanned as the Holy Spirit blows in and through our lives sustaining us and giving us voice and hands to do God’s work on our walk.. hesed.