Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: Transformed Love

“In the past few weeks, I posted 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:

8C   Song of Songs 8.6-14             The Transformation of Love

6.  Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.  Its flashes are like flashes of fire, a raging flame.  7. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.  If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned. 8. We have a little sister, and she has no breasts.  What shall we do for our sister, on the day when she is spoken for? 9. If she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver; but if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.  10.  I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who brings peace. 11. Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he entrusted the vineyard to keepers; each one was to bring for its fruit a thousand pieces of silver. 12. My vineyard, my very own, is for myself; you, O Solomon, may have the thousand, and the keepers of the fruit two hundred!  13. O you who dwell in the gardens, my companions are listening for your voice; let me hear it.  14. Make hast, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountains of spices.

Many lovers live in darkness, isolated in a land where there is no peace.  They tremble with the knowledge that love indeed is as strong as death.  For it is killing them. 

We are reminded this Christmas that on this day our saviour was born.  Salvation was never about a ticket out of this earth.  In the case of struggling lovers, salvation is about transformation and becoming the type of people who have the ability to set their love life ablaze amidst the drudgery of everyday.  When failed responsibilities and our brokenness lead us to accuse our beloved of a thousand wrongs, salvation changes our heart and its song from, “there are flaws in you” to “you are altogether lovely.”  This is the true meaning of holiness and its Christmas bond.

Then like Merton observed, we can approach the isolated islands of our broken beloved and join in with God.  There in that place, we help call forth our lovers’ glory.

And on a Christmas day after a season of Advent within the Song of all Songs, it seems strange to finish with Zechariah’s song.  After all, where does the story go after the manger?

Zach’s song was never only about his son, for like his child, Zechariah’s melody here points to the grand symphony and unfolding message of this child.

Zechariah was among the first to know that God’s kingdom coming meant a complete transformation of life on earth as it is in heaven.  He knew that the forgiveness of sins meant a new hope for vibrant love.  He knew that redemption meant the ability to create relationships of trust and environments of grace.   He rejoiced that the tender mercy of God would stretch beyond political stability and into every lovers bond that has gone cold.  This was God’s rescue attempt.  This was His hope that we might live our lives without fear.  This was God’s hope that holiness and righteousness would mean changing us from lousy lovers into soul mates. And this is the hope of Advent.

No wonder Zechariah, like we, sings a song at the Christmas birth of this child, who created the crucible of marriage not as the place that primarily fulfills but as a transforming academy of love. Then we live our long and often boring lives as lovers who in the cold winter nights and warm summer breezes turn down the sheets and leap like gazelles onto the mountain of spices.

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