Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: Public Abuse and Devotion

“In the coming weeks, I will post seventeen short Advent reflections on the Song of Songs from a young man learning to be a lover and a husband, who at the same time struggles to plant his worth as the beloved Bride of Christ.  My guiding question:

How does the birth of God’s Son transform the broken projects of struggling lovers into aspirations for soul mating?

Click here to read the general introduction:

6B  Song of Songs 6.11-13                      Public Abuse and Devotion

11.  I went to the nut orchard, to look at the blossoms of the valley, to see whether the vines had budded, whether the pomegranates were in bloom.  12. Before I was aware, my fancy set me in a chariot beside my prince.  13.  Return, return, O Shulammite!  Return, return, that we may look upon you.  Why should you look upon the Shulammaite, as upon a dance before two armies? A decree went out from Caesar Augustus, “Return, return, that we may look upon you.”  And in those days, a son of David made his way on a donkey chariot bound for Bethlehem.

By the time they arrived, Mary and Joseph had endured the dangers of public abuse.  Their devotion to one another met test after test.  Their trials ranged from a cold decree to the rejection of fireside lodging.  How could young love survive such harshness?

Public abuse will test the fabric of any bond.  From secret jealously to subtle jabs, men and women will face cold remarks and gestures toward their beloved.  These will come from enemy and family, foe and friend.  The question is how will each respond?

In the next chapter, the beloved responds faithfully, yet on this side of heaven we often stumble.  Can you imagine the love, which grew in Mary’s heart for Joseph after their journey?  He had not only taken her in after what looked like a scandal, but he even brokered what must have been a shameful place to birth his firstborn.  Joseph shows us an example of Advent love.  How we men often pale in comparison to his example.

The principle applies to our love of God too.  It will be tested, abused, made us to look like fools, spectacles of an age gone by.   Yet it is love, public praise—as we have seen—and a set of trials that will refine and reveal our capacity to love in all our soul bonds.   Our willingness to stand up for our first Love does not earn us a relationship with the creator, though I sense it engages His affections.

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