Song of Songs 4:1-7, This afternoon Hope and our daughter Sarah are going to a baby shower that Sarah and her friend Courtney are hosting for Mandy Marino Rupp. I’ll head over there after the shower is over to get to see folks. We’ve known Mandy since she and Sarah were in Grade. School.
I was blessed to preside at Mandy’s and Tim’s Wedding
7 and a ½ years ago on New Year’s Eve. That means we met for about 3 premarital counseling sessions, where one topic is always about sexual intimacy and talked about the scripture that Linde read for our scripture today. One of the points I always discuss with the couples that I support to get married, is that one of the very best gifts that GOD has given us is a couple’s intimacy.
I praise GOD for the Song of Songs to be in the Bible. This book sometimes referred to as the Song of Solomon, represents a remarkable departure from that of other books in the Bible.
To open the pages of this brief volume of poetry is to leave the world of heroes of GOD, tribal conflict, political disputes, royal intrigue, religious reforms, and divine judgement and to enter the language of sensuality, longing, intimacy, playfulness, and human affection.
With abandon, the lovers in Song of Songs delight in the physical pleasures of love. Only in Song of Songs is the female body extolled and praised for its difference and its beauty.
We over hear these private, intimate conversations between a woman and a man. Nowhere in its eight chapters is GOD mentioned. The Song of Songs is the only book in the Bible in which a female voice predominates. Her voice is the only unmediated female voice in all of Scripture. 56 verses are ascribed to the female speaker compared to the man’s 36; the experiences, thoughts, imagination, emotions, and words of this anonymous black-skinned woman are central to the book’s unfolding. She is assertive, uninhibited and unabashed about her sexual desires.
Some Bible commentators have seen the parallel between the Song of Songs and The American Blues tradition because of it comparable poignant interest in personal, individual struggles, the joys and sorrows of love, and the confounding chasm that exist between domestic reality and domestic fantasy.
Now we are going to switch gears and get a different perspective on today’s scripture. This is the fifth message in the series: “Abundant Beauty: Developing a Contemplative and Compassionate Life!” Today’s message is “The Beauty of a World Without a ‘Why.’”
Wendy Farley said, “The beauty in other beings exists completely for itself–not for any reason other than that the joy of existence is the purpose of life.” -
I really had to think about that…Let me repeat the phrase, “The beauty in other beings exists completely for itself–not for any reason other than that the joy of existence is the purpose of life.”
Are you ready… to let go of expectations? Please pray with me. Oh, Creator of Abundant Beauty, please prepare our spirits to really see, hear, touch, taste, and smell the beauty you’ve offered us. Please help us see and be immersed in the beauty of life.
In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
So many times, we look at the world around us to see what we can get, for a cheap price, we want stuff!!
But when we accept the non-utilitarian goodness of life–
a world that doesn’t need a “why”– we tune into the raw delight in the world. Beauty decenters our ego by helping us realize that life is its own justification. As we let go of how everything relates to us, serves us, benefits us, we begin to appreciate all things for their own worth and beauty, and our desire for their flourishing intensifies.
GOD’S beautiful creation doesn’t need a “why!” It just is!!
When we turn this idea onto our own selves, we can let go of the expectations of others and the societal standards of beauty in regard to our own worth.
For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth,
over and around us lies.
God of all to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise!
In our search for beauty today I have a question for you. What is shiny and reflects one of the most beautiful things on earth when you look into it? Can you guess? OK… another clue… If you want to see if you have something in your teeth, what do you look in?!
Yes! A mirror! Go ahead… can we find one close by?
Whoa! Look at that! I can see me in the mirror! Can you see me in yours? No? What?!! I can see me, why can’t you see me?? Ohhhh…. Because a mirror shows us OURSELVES. So, you see YOU. OK… I get it!
That’s really good that you can see you in the mirror. Because today we are moving our perspective and reading the same scripture and listen to hear GOD in these words. It says, “look at how beautiful you are!” This is sometimes hard to believe and I can tell you a lot of us adults have a hard time believing it. But it is true. You can also trust that no matter how unique or different you are from anyone else, who you are exactly who you are supposed to be and God calls you “beautiful!” You don’t have to try to be beautiful, YOU JUST ARE!! Period.
This week I invite you to get permission and help from your significant other to make a big heart on your bathroom mirror right where you see your face. Every time you brush your teeth or wash your hands, which I know you probably do a lot, look at your face inside the heart and know that this is how God feels about you. This is how you are meant to be loved… as part of the beauty of creation! AND guess what… everyone and everything is beautiful, all in its own, as well. So, we can imagine a heart around the faces of everyone we see. Let’s pray a repeat-after-me prayer:
God of Goodness [repeat, etc]
Thank you for creating us…
for making us beautiful and loved…
let others know they are beautiful and loved too…
for the beauty of the earth…
This time when I read the same scripture that Linde read, please listen to the words as if GOD was talking directly to you. Please hear Song of Songs 4:1-7, but this time from the Message Translation, “1-5 You’re so beautiful, my darling,
so beautiful, and your dove eyes are veiled
By your hair as it flows and shimmers,
like a flock of goats in the distance
streaming down a hillside in the sunshine.
Your smile is generous and full—
expressive and strong and clean. Your lips are jewel red,
your mouth elegant and inviting,
your veiled cheeks soft and radiant.
The smooth, lithe lines of your neck
command notice—all heads turn in awe and admiration!
Your breasts are like fawns,
twins of a gazelle, grazing among the first spring flowers.
6-7 The sweet, fragrant curves of your body,
the soft, spiced contours of your flesh
Invite me, and I come. I stay
until dawn breathes its light and night slips away.
You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love,
beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless.”
The Song of Songs is biblical poetry at its most lush. In this book, adoration for another is full of metaphors from nature–the voice is like the coo of a dove, the curve of the landscape is seen as the curve of the Body. Perhaps the hills and mountains are the curve of the Beloved Creator and our bodies are to be seen as the beautiful handiwork of the same Artisan of Life. In this passage for today, the culminating conclusion is that there is no flaw in the utter beauty of the subject of adoration.
This does not mean that perfection is the goal,
but that there is no flaw in imperfection. And the beauty of the one beheld is not dependent on the judgment of the beholder.
Let us continue to hear GOD’S Word, speaking GOD’S love to us; allowing judgment to suspend, to lift, to dissipate so that we might adore all things, even ourselves, as the “Dearest” to whom this letter is addressed.
This week’s invitation to a contemplative practice based on our message could occur in two ways we’ve experienced already in this worship. You may want to set a reminder to spend some silent time with your palms open on your lap, contemplating further what expectations and messages you are holding about what you “should be.” Imagine them lifted and released. My friends, “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” can block your connection to GOD.
You could also “mirror,” by placing a note on a mirror you frequent daily: “Look at you! So beautiful, Dearest one.
So beautiful. Believe this voice of the Divine Lover… for the beauty of the earth.”
Billy Graham tells us that the Bible is GOD’S Love Letter to you so you should read it; and really believe that GOD LOVES YOU!! When we KNOW GOD LOVES US THEN WE CAN LOVE OTHERS!!
Henri Nowen wrote this devotional, “God’s Heart Has Become One With Ours.”
He wrote, “When we say to people, “I will pray for you,” we make a very important commitment. The sad thing is that this remark often remains nothing but a well-meant expression of concern. But when we learn to descend with our mind into our heart, then all those who have become part of our lives are led into the healing presence of God and touched by him in the center of our being. We are speaking here about a mystery for which words are inadequate. It is the mystery that the heart, which is the center of our being, is transformed by God into his own heart, a heart large enough to embrace the entire universe.
Through prayer we can carry in our heart all human pain and sorrow, all conflicts and agonies, all torture and war, all hunger, loneliness, and misery, not because of some great psychological or emotional capacity, but because God’s heart has become one with ours.”
Henri J. M. Nouwen
Psalm 94:17-19, “Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”
My friends, we can help folks in this broken world by sharing GOD’S Holy Spirit, Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.
RECEIVE GOD’S LOVE,
SO YOU CAN SHARE GOD’S LOVE!!