It isn’t often that the Revised Common Lectionary suggests a reading from the Song of Songs for our morning worship. Perhaps the sensuality of this unabashed love poem is a little embarrassing, a holdover from our Puritan heritage. Or perhaps the intimacy is just a little too close, making us voyeurs at someone else’s love affair. The Bible is less reticent, including this joyful celebration of love alongside laws and prophets and histories. Song of Songs invites us into a realm in which love is the gravity that draws the world together, the power that inclines birds to song and flowers to blossom. Love animates and enriches the world, lovers bounding down hillsides to join coyly waiting partners, calling them to come out and join this singing, greening world. It is a call to us as well, to come out of our darkened rooms into the light of love shining all around, a call to joy and taking pleasure in life, most powerfully to take delight in one another. In a world too scarred by hatred and violence and anger it is a call we long to heed.
Both the church and the synagogue in their long history have taken a bold step when reading the Song of Songs. They have understood that the lover of the Song is God, that what the Song of Songs evokes in us is God’s love for us, the way God desires to be in the closest of relationships with us. We often say that God is love. God cares for us and seeks our good. The Song of Songs goes beyond God’s caring love. God’s love for us is like the yearning between young lovers. It is a daring image. God desires to be related to us that intimately, that intensely, that passionately. In love God want to know us and be known by us.
See you in Church,