Friday, January 15, 2010

Shalom and Shalvah

Today I read these words written by Eugene Peterson, and in the process learnt a new one – shalvah.

...The words shalom and shalvah play on the sounds in Jerusalem, jerushalom, the place of worship.

Shalom, peace, is one of the richest words in the Bible. You can no more define it by looking up its meaning in the dictionary than you can define a person by his social security number. It gathers all aspects of wholeness that result from God's will being completed in us. It is the work of God that, when complete, releases streams of living water in us and pulsates with eternal life. Every time Jesus healed, forgave, or called someone, we have a demonstration of shalom.

And shalvah, security.

It has nothing to do with insurance policies or large bank accounts or stockpiles of weapons.

The root meaning is leisure - the relaxed stance of one who knows that everything is all right because God is over us, with us, and for us in Jesus Christ. It is the security of being at home in a history that has a cross at its centre.

It is the leisure of the person who knows that every moment of our existence is at the disposal of God, lived under the mercy of God.

If I – and Eugene – have understood shalvah correctly, it works for me, and it’s the place I find myself in at the moment.

Shalom and Shalvah!

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