There is no God in the Song of Solomon or Song of Songs, whichever name you prefer. I will probably alternate between both names today, because there is no evidence that this was actually written by Solomon, just attributed to him.

God’s name is not mentioned in our text or in any other verse in this erotic poem. The Song of Solomon and Esther are the only two books, in what we call the Old Testament, that share this distinction. When the Jewish Canon was being created there was some wrangling over the inclusion of these books, and a great deal of interpretation was needed in order for them to make the final cut.

Peter Paulson states, “As far back as the gathering of the Targum, an interpretive paraphrase of the Old Testament in Aramaic, the Song of Solomon was described as a poetic history of God’s redeeming love for his people from the time of the Exodus down through the Exile and restoration. Christian scholars followed in the same vein making Christ the lover and protector of the Church.” (Paulson, Peter. The Covenant Quarterly, Vol. LIV, No. 3 (August 1996), pp. 26-37)

And while the history of interpretations is important, it is important to note that most, if not all, of these interpretations avoided the sexuality and passion of the poetry. In an attempt to make these passionate words more palatable, the men of that day introduced a more complex interpretation of the text, one that felt the need to inject God into a poem that was clearly written about a relationship between a woman and a man.

Certainly, we can use the allegory of the divine-human relationship. However, what of the eroticism and passion? What about the feelings and imagery that leap from this text? What about the fact that this is the only book in our Bible written by a woman?

Yes, you heard correct, not only is the name of God not written in the book, it is the only book with writings from a woman. Esther and Ruth were written about women, but Song of Songs is written by a woman for women.

And now that I have sucked all of the passion out of the text with a technical analysis, let us take a turn to Matthew.

This is a rich passage of one-liners from Jesus, and I want us to look at three of them today.

The first one is this: "But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.'”

It is as true for our generation as it was for them, we try and do all of these things to make God dance, we sit around telling God all of the wonderful things we have done in order to gain a response, or a favor down the line. Our collective wisdom throughout the ages has created this idea that just because we are good or do the right things, God will dance when we tell God to dance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, mostly because the one thing that God wants, is the one thing we usually choose not to do, and that is open our eyes and ears to the pulse of the world.

Let’s look at zinger number two: “At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.’”

I was talking with a friend the other day about postmodern philosophy and its benefits and critiques. After a careful illumination of theory and language constructs, he says simply, “You know, I think we just tend to over-think things sometimes.” There is a lot to that idea. That sometimes we make too big a deal out of small things and sometimes simplicity is the way to go.

Let’s hit the final one-liner, one of my favorites and one of simplistic beauty. "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

There are two things to say about this, and neither are complicated. The first is this, Jesus says that he will offer rest to those who come for it. However, rest doesn’t mean inactivity it means that the burdens we carry will rest easier on our shoulders because of the yoke offered by faith. The second is, to accept this yoke, we must find the creative passion to follow Jesus.

This takes us back to our text from Songs of Songs. Creative passion, rest, and hope are the things we find in a loving living faith in God. It is not just reserved for the human-divine relationship either. Our relationships with one another here deserve the same passion.

Thinking that poverty is a bad thing is not the same as seeing ourselves in the eyes of every living human being.

Thinking that hunger needs to be eradicated is not the same as believing that all of God’s children deserve to begin and end each day with full bellies.

Thinking that justice is a nice idea is not the same as walking a mile with those who are oppressed.

Passion gives legs to our thoughts and our hearts. It takes passion to believe and treat that everyone as one of God’s children. It takes creative passion to believe in and live the kind of love that faith requires. It takes great devotion to want and to change this world.

There is no one here today without creative passion. There is no one here today without passionate hope. There is no one here today without hopeful love. And when we can be these things for one another, then we are these things for God.

And with passion, hope, and love: our burdens will lighten, our troubled minds will ease and rest, and we will sleep peacefully at night, resting with the greatest of lovers, Jesus, the one we call the Christ.

“My beloved speaks and says to me: ‘Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.’”

These are the words that called the soul of the beloved to a new life of passion, to a new life of hope and love shared by this woman and man. And while we peek in on the passion between two who loved one another so much, can we help but peek in on our own relationships, on the places that give rise to passion in our lives.

Just as the new life bursts forth from the ground in the spring, so it is time for new life to burst from within. It is never too late to be passionate, hopeful, and loving…



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