Tag Archives: Christmas

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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Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: Hot Christian Sex

“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:

7A  Song of Songs: 7.1-9                     Hot Christian Sex

1.  How graceful are your feet in sandals, O queenly maiden!  your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand.  2. Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine. Your belly is like a heap of wheat, encircled with lilies.  3.  Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle.  4.  Your neck is like an ivory tower.  Your eyes are pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon, overlooking Damascus.  5.  Your head crowns you like Carmel, and your flowing locks are like purple; a king is held captive in the tresses.  6. How fair and pleasant you are, O loved one, delectable maiden!  7.  You are stately as a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters.  8.   I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its branches.  O may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, 9. and your kisses like best wine that goes down smoothly, gliding over lips and teeth.

 

If there were ever a passage to promote Hot Christian Sex, this would be it.  Yet, these Advent reflections remind us that climbing palm trees and enjoying clusters of grapes happens most authentically in the context of Soul Mating. Anything else remains a cheap exploitation. The final reflection in a few days will seal that idea on our hearts.

In our world today, hot sex fuels the economy of objectification.  Adult toys epitomize it.  We are trained from an early age that whether it is plastic or flesh, it has been made to gratify our bodies.  Yet, the human person is so much more.  Hot Christian Sex always realizes that love happens between persons who are deep and complex like an orchard.

Don’t get me wrong.  Our sex life was meant to be like the best wine, but there is a challenging road one needs to travel to get there.  It leads through the transformation of wounded eros.

I sometimes wonder what the holy family must have felt after years in exile.  Finally, in the homeland of their youth, they settle in Nazareth.  After years of hardship and wilderness, they reach a settled life.

Transformed eros always comes after long years.  We all have been marred with images, expectations, and some of us traumatic childhood experiences.  We have been told that our bodies are bad and our sexuality as dark as sin.  Yet, the journey home to the love of our sexuality means years of wilderness.  Can we embrace a life project, which seeks to transform our wounded hearts, or will we run from bed to bed trying to find simple Hot Sex?

Transformed eros means drinking deep in our sexuality while embracing and giving to the intricate souls and bodies of our lovers.  It never means wishing they were somebody else.  And it looks less like the explosion of a supernova and more like enjoying the subtleties of a field of wheat.

Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: The Wedding Day

“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:

3B: Song of Songs 3.6-11                       The Wedding Day

6. What is that coming up from the
wilderness,
like a column of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and
frankincense,
with all the fragrant powders of
the merchant?
7. Look, it is the litter of Solomon!
Around it are sixty mighty men
of the mighty men of Israel,
8. all equipped with swords
and experts in war,
each with his sword at his thigh
because of alarms by night.
9. King Solomon made himself a
palanquin
from the wood of Lebanon.
10. He made its posts of silver,
its back of gold, its seat of
purple
its interior was inlaid with love.
Daughters of Jerusalem,
11. come out.
Look, O daughters of Zion,
at King Solomon,
at the crown with which his
mother crowned him
on the day of his wedding,
on the day of the gladness of
his heart. From the wild’s horizon, horse hoofs trembled the dusty road into a unified cloud. Solomon storms to his wedding day.
 I can remember mine well.  It was mixed up with anticipation and clumsy emotions.

We met in suspended moments. She wore a gown studded with jewels. I wore fabric chiseled and angled. Beneath our up-dressed garments trembled nerves and a palpable secret. I am no king. She is no queen. What can the Song of Songs be but an unreachable love? How cruel a thing to live in an epic story like ours and desire epic love when the courting of these Solomonic gods mocks our fickle drama?

Yet, there stood our mighty men and women beside us with sharp conviction. They ushered our family in royal procession. Would we break under the pressures of distilled authenticity?  Or with the help of a mighty child, would our hearts meet somewhere in the middle of our humanity?

Come bridesmaids, see him coming. Come see his garland. Come see her jewels. Come see white robes washed of darkness. Come see united hearts and minds rejoicing lightly about their weaknesses, for the King is teaching their hearts gladness, softening their tempests, sheltering their love, in the heart of their humanity, in the dawning of their spring.

Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: The Apple Tree

“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:

2A: Song of Songs 2.1-7                          The Apple Tree

1. I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.
2. As a lily among brambles,
so is my love among maidens.
3. As an apple tree among the trees
of the wood,
so is my beloved among
young men.
With great delight I sat in his
shadow,
and his fruit was sweet
my taste.
4. He brought me to the banqueting
house,
and his intention toward me was
love.
5. Sustain me with raisins,
refresh me with apples;
for I am faint with love.
6. O that his left hand were under
my head,
and that his right hand
embraced me!
7. I adjure you, O daughters of
Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the wild
does:
do not stir up or awaken love
until it is ready! The tree of life my soul hath seen…its fruit doth make my soul to thrive…it keeps my dying faith alive.

The Advent season is among other things a reminder that we are loved.

We are lilies of the valley even if the scorching winds of life have punctured our petals.  Many struggle to feel their loveliness.  But some of those that I know have learned that the nectar of our petals have power.  Though they often feel horrid, they know how to transform the winds of doubt into positive spirit energy.  They also know how to do so without succumbing to the sick obsession  for constant self-improvement.

In unadulterated moments of spirit reception, they have felt the ecstatic voice of the beloved drawing them into sweet fellowship.  Yet, most days fill themselves with ordinary things, and it often feels as if the left hand of God were far from their weary head and his right hand withholding embrace. Even if they don’t admit it, most know they are worthy of the divine embrace, but too often secret bitterness disguises itself as busyness and the like.  They find ways not to admit how bitter they can become with God.  They can refuse to taste the sweet juice of grace and to feel the shade of mercy.

To be skilled at love is to first know how to be loved.  Can we learn to be loved? Can we learn to cozy into the embrace of a divine Saviour?  Can our thirsty souls, as Isaiah puts it, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain, and eat; Come without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!

The sand blown storms of life hold within them the power to wilt our souls.  But we have this divine rooted steadiness that waits ever for us to open our hands and receive love.  And out of the ordinariness of boring life comes a reminder of our loveliness—too soft to hear if we are not listening–, which makes my soul in haste to be with Jesus Christ the apple tree.