It’s spring time! A profusion of green paddock, budding fruit trees, golden wattle and warming days lifts our spirits. Almost subconsciously we head to nurseries to buy vegetable and flower seedlings and prepare the soil for later tomato plants. Spring is quite noticeable this year after the unusually cold, grey winter we have had. This season is well named. It really does put a spring in our steps and then facing the weeding which must be done, is almost a pleasure.
The only thing that can put a dampener on these feelings is looking at the Lectionary readings for this week. There are some parts of Scripture that are hard to deal with and we groan when we see them come up. What are we to say about them that may convey new understandings of the Love of God? There are even whole books that we avoid if we can and Song of Solomon has been one of these. We may look hopefully at all the other set reading for something that is easier to deal with. Song of Solomon is not easy for the older ones of us who were brought up with the prudish attitudes of the Victorian era still the predominant influence.Many of us find it easier to talk about war, violence and murder than tender, erotic love. For many Christians who hold to the concept of Original Sin, anything sexual is seen as evil. God’s love, we were taught, was Agape, pure, and holy, unlike corrupted human love. Christians for whom at least 90% of the portrayal of God is as Father and hence male, the idea coming later in our exploration of images of God as that of lover is almost impossible to contemplate.
If you love God, then today’s set reading from the Song of Solomon is an invitation to spend some relaxed time with the One you love. It will be easier for many of us if we use the word, “Friend” instead of “Beloved”. For many of us a favourite hymn has been, “What a friend we have in Jesus” and through it we have become familiar with the concept of Christ as Friend. We have friends who get in touch and invite us for a coffee and a chat or to visit a gallery, one day soon. They are inviting, not demanding or compelling. They leave the response up to us and we know that even if we have to turn this particular invitation down, they will not stop being our friend. There will be other invitations.
...What Song of Solomon shows us is a light-hearted invitation to relaxation and enjoyment of our relationship with God who is always far more than we can ever imagine. It is a call for us to engage with the Divine with our hearts as well as our heads. We have been quite good with the head stuff but have often avoided more intimate relationship. To begin this requires listening with the heart which is about feeling what you are hearing; listening, feeling and then acting.
Rev Julianne Parker
(for full sermon see sermons page)