My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for
now the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come”.
I have to start out by noting that when I prepare to write my sermons, I often read Bible commentaries. When I opened one Bible commentary to the section on Song of Solomon, it had 2 sentences: “The Song of Solomon is attributed to King Solomon. It is a metaphor for the relationship the people of Israel had with God”. I busted up laughing. This extended love poem, playful and sensual that is the Song of Solomon, made that fellow so uncomfortable he couldn’t even bring himself to tell us more about who Solomon was! And yet. Our whole lives are lived in bodies. We are born live and die in a time and space. The very foundation of our theological history starts with: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and called it good. So today, for a few minutes I am going to suggest we do the same. For a few minutes this morning I am going to suggest that we acknowledge that all of God’s creation, including human bodies is good. For a few minutes I am going to ask us how our lives would be different if we woke up every day and heard God whisper: “Good morning, sleepy head, you are created in my image! You are beloved! Spend the day with me!” What would your day look like if the God you experienced throughout the day was not the God who judged you, but loved you? What would your day look like if you kept turning around during the day sure that you heard a dear friend call your name? How safe would you feel? How grounded? Have you ever been in an awful place- have you ever experienced something absolutely awful and yet you knew that even in the midst of that, you knew, you really knew you were going to be okay? I have. Not every day mind you. But during some challenging times, I thought: This is terrible and I am going to be okay anyhow. I felt God walking with me. What would it feel like for you and you and you and you to hear God whisper YOUR name? On my first trip to Haiti we spent a week re-building a church in the village of Fondue. Fondue means sweet valley in Haitian Creole and the church was the only substantial building for miles. It was brick and block and about the size of this sanctuary. It functioned as a health clinic for traveling doctors, and was a community center. We had 2 translators with us. Half of us would help stucco the building while the other half taught and played with 2 dozen children. At one point our group was teaching the kids how to write their names. Some of the construction workers who worked alongside us came over to hear the lessons. One of the men, a guy named Immanuel, was in his mid-30’s. He had never been to school. Swallowing his pride, he asked if someone could teach him how to write his name. One of our team wrote it for him. His eyes got big. He pointed to the paper and then to himself. That’s ME?? Yes, Immanuel, that’s you. I ask you: what would it be like to see the word Beloved and know that God wrote it and that’s you? What would you do differently? How would your life be different? In the midst of that mistake- do you laugh and shake your head? In the midst of that deep trial- maybe it was a loss- of a job, your health, a loved one, your marriage- what would it feel like for you and you and you to hear God whisper your name- Beloved! Spend the day with me! What would that feel like? Do you take a deep breath and notice the sunset despite the pain around and within?
One of my favorite poets writes: “Fear is the cheapest room in the house. God wants better living conditions for you. God wants to see more playfulness in your eyes. For THAT is your greatest witness to God. Your mother and my mother sat in the beloved’s womb playing footsie. Your soul and my soul are very old friends. “ Let me read that again: “Fear is the cheapest room in the house. God wants better living conditions for you. God wants to see more playfulness in your eyes, for that is your greatest witness to God. Your mother and my mother sat in the beloved’s womb playing footsie. Your soul and my soul are very old friends.
In most of our scriptures, the relationship between man and woman was one of need for progeny- for a family to survive and also for a people to survive. Not the Song of Solomon. The Song of Solomon is not about work. It is not about worry. It is not about the future, or the past. It is about celebrating the here and now and letting pure joy transform you, nourish you, lighten the load you and we all carry.
And yes, part of the reason I am so passionate about justice is that injustice insults the image of God in those all around us. Even as God is whispering the names of those around us, the world’s foolishness is trying to drown out God’s voice and undermine God’s love. So celebrate. Really celebrate. Relax into God’s love. Listen for it. Look for it. Touch it. Giggle. Blush. Know that God is calling your name, and yours and yours and yours and mine too into a deeper experience of God’s love. And know too, that there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from God’s love: Nothing in the depths, nor heights, can ever ever separate us from that love. Be playful. Be fearless. Know you are God’s beloved!