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This recording is intended for distribution to members and friends of the Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian Church family. While effort is made to give credit for work done by others, the notes may use material for which appropriate credit is not given.
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Song of Solomon 2:8-3:5
Happy Valentine’s Day! How providential that this is the week in our Bible readings we are about to read one of the most famous love songs in all of scripture. Parents- you better read this book before you let your children read it. Rate it PG-13. Parts of it are sexy and sensual.
Still, if you ask me, this text comes just in time: between some depressing and fatalistic reading of Ecclesiastes and the call of Isaiah the prophet to repent. Nestled right here in scripture is this love song. If you haven’t bought a Valentine’s card… you can make your own-just grab some verses from the Song of Solomon.
Listen to it and see if it doesn’t remind you of Anne Murray’s old song. Remember it?
There’s a wren in a willow wood
Flies so high and sings so good
And he brings to you
What he sings to you.
Like my brother the wren and I
Well, he told me if I try, I could fly for you
And I wanna try for you. ’cause
I wanna sing you a love song
I wanna rock you in my arms all night long
I wanna get to know you
I wanna show you the peaceful feelin’ of my home.
Listen now to the love song from God’s word to us today: [the Scripture is dramatically read in reader’s theatre format. ]
You might understand after listening to the love song that the Song of Solomon (remember: attributed to a man who had 700 wives and 300 concubines) is one that the church has struggled with for some time. I mean, how do you include something so sexy and sensual in the Holy Bible?!
For example, in the first century, some rabbis wondered if it should be in the Bible. They said it was little more than a drinking song. But other rabbis embraced it as a word for us to hear.
It might surprise you then to know that the early Christians loved reading the Song of Solomon. The early Christian and scholar Origen wrote a 10 volume commentary on the book. In the early and middle ages, the Song of Solomon, probably was at it’s height of popularity. It was the subject of more OT commentaries than any other book. Bernard of Clairvaus, a 12th century monk wrote 86 sermons on the Song and he didn’t even get past chapter 2.
Of course today – it is the perfect passage for Valentine’s day. It celebrates the delight of love… the joy of springtime when hearts turn to love… the gift of human love that God has given us. At one level, the Bible simply wants to celebrate this gift of love… in all of its sensuality and longing.
At another level, interpreters over the centuries have seen something more being said in this song. They have said, this is not only the story of human love… this is also the story of God’s loving delight in us, his people.
This song inspired Christians to think about God’s passionate love for us (this is no impersonal God who created us as a sort of divine experiment to disinterestedly watch from above)… this is the God who feels for his people…loves his creation…who cares passionately for his people. This is a God who longs for us… and a God who hopes we will long for God. That’s how some have heard this love song.
Others have also heard in this love song, a metaphor of Christ’s passionate love for the church. This reminded them of a powerful New Testament image where the relationship between Christ and the church is compared to a bridegroom and a bride. That’s a fairly intimate image if you ask me! They said, Christ loves us with passion and we are invited to love Christ with passion. (Presbyterians with passion? How does that sound to you?)
So today, thanks to the Song of Solomon, God invites us to celebrate the gift of love on many, many levels. And listen closely to the lyrics of the song… you learn a lot about what love looks like… whether it be between two humans or between God and his people…
Listen to the song and it is clear that there is a vulnerable and intimate quality to the love. Which is true for most relationships of depth, don’t you think?
The speakers open their hearts to one another… speaking what many are afraid to say. Risking rejection but holding on to the hope of love returned. Being open and honest with feelings.
I listen to the song and notice something else… there is a faithfulness and steadfastness at work in this relationship.
“I am yours and you are mine”.
Faithfulness and love work together to form healthy relationships– whether it be between humans or between God and humans.
Today, as we celebrate Stephen Ministry’s 10th anniversary at the Kirk, I would like to lift up the quality of loving faithfulness as a gift Stephen ministers offer people in their time of need. I wonder how much you know about Stephen Ministry or Stephen Ministers. Stephen Ministry is designed to help us learn to love one another faithfully in very concrete ways.
Stephen ministers, offer one-on-one caring ministry for those who need the faithful and loving support of a Christian friend. They offer a relationship where trained and supervised church members can help others through hard times.
They are ready to provide the kind of loving and faithful relationship where you can be open and honest and vulnerable. They love so much, Stephen ministers receive 50 hours of training and meet bi-weekly to prepare to love people through the most difficult times of life. Thanks to Stephen Ministers, no one has to face tough times alone.
Let me give you some examples of the situations they are ready to help us
through. See if you can say yes to any of these questions:
In the last 12 months, has anyone you know had issues with their children?
In the last 12 months, has someone you know questioned the strength of their faith?
In the past 12 months, has someone you know received a diagnosis of a terminal illness?
In the past 12 months, has someone you know lost a loved one?
In the past 12 months, has someone in your family, or someone close to you been hospitalized for a serious illness or accident?
Anyone with aging parents?
In the past 12 months, has someone you know had an addition to their family through marriage, childbirth, or adoption?
In the past 12 months, has someone you know lost their job or suffered serious financial stress?
In the past 12 months, has someone you know separated from their spouse or suffered through a divorce?
All right… now anyone who did not say “yes” to one of those questions – please raise your hand.
Well, I have good news for you. We have Stephen ministers – children of God who faithfully love with God’s love ready to walk beside anyone who is hurting… we have Stephen ministers who are caring, Christian friends who are ready to listen, care, pray, support and encourage you on your journey. We have people who will “be there” for you – with love and faithfulness.
Today, we heard an ancient song of love and faithfulness from the Song of Solomon. This faithful love is a gift of God to us to be shared. This is a love, when celebrated, reminds us of God’s love for us. Jeremiah would say it this way: “I have loved you with an everlasting love, thus saith the Lord.”
Happy Valentine’s Day! Amen.