Sunday, December 20, 2015

Come on In Boys, the Waters Fine

Tomorrow's Gospel is a beautiful repeat of the reading for Sunday.  Though one could go on into a great deal of depth into this reading, I find myself being drawn instead to the first reading, from the beautiful and poetic Song of Songs.  One would be making a grave mistake indeed to treat this as some sort of history book or eye witness account.   Instead, we look at it for what it is.  Poetry.  Grand and genius poetry at that.

As Christians we look at all of Scripture to learn what we can learn about our relationship with Christ, with God.  So when we read this poem we should imagine ourselves, the Church, as the bride.  Then the lover, the King, we look at as an image or type of Christ.   So what does this interesting selection, one that is available for use at weddings, seem to say to us about our relationship with Christ?  About his relationship with us?

Hark! my lover–here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.

Oh the beauty of this image.  I think it may be lost to us living in the cities and suburbs.  The image is that of young love.  Wild, free.  The energy of youth, the fleet foot of someone who is sure of their actions.  A gazelle or stag move with grace, precision.  They are filled with confidence.  Here this young lover peers through the lattice, into our world.. into our lives.. just hoping to get a glimpse of the one he loves.  Seeking us out wherever we might be... wherever we might hide.  That is our first lesson.  God is pursuing us.  He wants to show us how much he loves us.  He wants to see us, even if we aren't particularly trying to see him.  He goes over any terrain, any obstacle, to try and be a part of our lives. 

Then the poet writes: Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!  Not once, but twice.  God is enamored with us.   Unlike society with it's airbrushed pictures and plastic personalities, God loves us for who we are.  So much so he calls us beautiful and bids us to be a part of his world.  He wants us to be in communion with him.  Not just a superficial love, but a love that allows us to receive eternal life.  A love pure and strong, like the love of our youth.  Do you remember when you fell in love for the first time?  How strong it was?  How nothing else seemed to matter?  Oh but God loves us that much for eternity...  He still woos us like a young lover, still loves us so much so that he is willing to do anything... whatever it takes.. even give up his life, just to be loved in return.

“O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely.”

My dove.  Rock pigeon is likely what it refers to here.  Either way, mourning doves and rock pigeons have something in common.. they both mate for life.  They are monogamous.. they never choose another mate while their mate is alive.  God here is calling out to the church as one he trusts.. one who is his and his alone.  Fidelity.  Then he says that our voice, our prayers, are sweet to him.  We are lovely to him.    Isn't that beautiful?  Doesn't that poetry just tell you how much God loves us?  I imagine that is why they tied this again to the story of Mary's visitation in the Gospel.  Mary is also an image of the perfect disciple, an image of what it means to be Church.  One could even imagine God saying this words to her directly.  The one who said yes to him, with complete abandon.

We are almost to Christmas.  For weeks now we have been looking to see how we can prepare our hearts for God to come live in them, for Christ to be born into our world, into our hearts gain, from day to day, second to second, breath to breath.  Today we are reminded how much God wants that.  How much God wants to be a part of our life... that he is seeking to be one with us, looking into our world... longing to spread his mercy and love into our lives.  Even when we hide.  Even when we go through a dry spell, or when things seem to go wrong.. when things seem so horrible that we think it's even too late to pray about it.. God says "Speak to me my love.  Your voice is sweet, and you are lovely.  Let me see you."  Don't try to hide in the recesses of the cliff... he wants to see us...  As St. Paul said, "Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. "  Yes, the one who will deliver us from our habits, our fears, our sinfulness... that is the one who woos us.. the one who begs you to spend time with Him. 

Are you doing that?  A good way to do so is through Confession.  Now is the right time of year for that.  Monday night at our Parish they are having a communal penance service for Advent to help people prepare for Christmas.  At 7:00 P.M. we will gather together to call out to God in repentance and hope.. and he will say "Your voice is sweet and you are lovely."  As Delmar said in my favorite movie, "Come on in boys, the waters fine." 

His servant and yours,
Brian