Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Passion is seldom the end of any story, for it cannot long endure if it is not soon supplemented with true affection and mutual respect. Kathryn L Nelson
A Reading from The Song of Songs/Solomon 1:1-17
The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine, your anointing oils are fragrant, your name is perfume poured out; therefore the maidens love you. Draw me after you, let us make haste. The king has brought me into his chambers. We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you. I am black and beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has gazed on me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!
Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who is veiled beside the flocks of your companions? If you do not know, O fairest among women, follow the tracks of the flock, and pasture your kids beside the shepherds’ tents. I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots. Your cheeks are comely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels. We will make you ornaments of gold, studded with silver.
While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance. My beloved is to me a bag of myrrh that lies between my breasts. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of En-gedi. Ah, you are beautiful, my love; ah, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves. Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely. Our couch is green; the beams of our house are cedar, our rafters are pine.
Reflections on the Reading
by James T. Dennison, Jr.
My own view of the book is that it is a divinely inspired love poem of the affection between Solomon and his Shulammite bride. The sexual imagery of the book is appropriate to a man and his wife experiencing what God gave to that first man and woman in the garden of Eden. We have a canonical poem celebrating marital love after the fall—"and behold it is very good!" Garden imagery in a fresh-blooming world is emblematic of the setting for man and woman in their unashamed intimacy.
Every chapter of the Song is fraught with images that strike our senses—sight (flowers), sounds (animals and birds), smells (perfumes), taste (fruits) and touch (physical attractiveness). Love—marital, sexual love—is the exploration and intoxication of all the senses. Our lovers are delighting in one another as God intended from the beginning. They possess one another, longing and yearning for that union which fittingly consummates their love. They taste something of the mystery which exists at the heart of intimate union—a mystery expressed by Paul as reflected in the union of Christ and his Bride, the Church (Eph.5).
You have loved us passionately into being.
We come today seeking your presence
and to know we are your beloved.
Enter our sanctuary and enter our hearts
that we may look into your loving gaze
and see ourselves reflected there, as you see us.
Let our love for you reflect and mirror your perfect love
as we gather as your beloved community. Amen