Talks On The Song of Songs — Book Review

Standard

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), a French abbot and reformer, was a founder of the Cistercian monastic order.  He spent 18 years writing sermons which served as a commentary on the Song of Songs.  He died before completing an exposition of  the entire book. He only made it through the third verse of Chapter 3 in 86 sermons!  Bernard saw the bride in Song of Songs as a representative of both the individual soul and the entire Church;  The Bridegroom is, of course, Christ. The book became for him, an allegory of the spiritual life, and more personally his own life with God.

This book is not easy reading, and not for everyone.  The copy I have is edited and modernized by Bernard Bangley and is still slow going.  I used it as a devotional years ago, reading one small section carefully each day.   Here’s an excerpt from the very beginning:

You have studied, denied yourself, and meditated constantly for a long time.  I am sure you are prepared for a diet of solid spiritual food.  The Song of Songs is tasty bread.  Let’s break it and enjoy a substantial meal.

The Song of Songs is a book we don’t often study or spend time with.  You might give this book a try and find it well worth the effort.

Advertisements

Undeserved Love #2

Standard

My husband and I often borrow DVDs from our local library, and recently we began watching some of the classic musicals.  We started with “My Fair Lady.”  You may recall that this play (originally Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw) tells the story of a language professor who through training, betters the speech of a flower girl (Eliza Doolittle) to such a great extent that she can successfully masquerade as a fine lady.  In the movie, Eliza’s father describes himself as being one of the “underserving poor.”

No, no, I can’t afford ’em, gov’ner. Neither could you if you was as poor as me. Not that I mean any ‘arm, mind you, but if Eliza’s getting a bit out of this, why not me too? Eh? Why not? Well, look at it my way – what am I? I ask you, what am I? I’m one of the undeserving poor, that’s what I am. Now think what that means to a man. It means that he’s up against middle-class morality for all of time. If there’s anything going, and I puts in for a bit of it, it’s always the same story: “you’re undeserving, so you can’t have it.” But my needs is as great as the most deserving widows that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same ‘usband. I don’t need less than a deserving man, I need more! I don’t eat less ‘earty than ‘e does, and I drink, oh, a lot more. I’m playin’ straight with you. I ain’t pretendin’ to be deserving. No, I’m undeserving. And I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it and that’s the truth

Read more: http://stageagent.com/monologues/616/my-fair-lady/alfred-p-doolittle#ixzz562eN4vQd

Of course, we find this laughable — who would admit, even be proud of the fact that he’s undeserving.  Actually what he says is quite true.  The underserving need help even more than the deserving, and guess what?  Folks, we are all one of the undeserving in God’s eyes.  Sometimes, like Alfred Doolittle, we even like our sin.  We’re usually not so honest about it though.  We prefer to think “we’re good people” who are “doing the best we can.”  That’s what a Pastor I used to know called “stinking thinking.”  The Apostle Paul in the book of Romans tells us:

“None is righteous, no not one;  no on understands;  no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside;  together they have become worthless;  no one does good, not even one.”  Romans 3:10-12

Love, Died, Cross, Thorns, Crown, Heart, Bible, Shadow

Fortunately for us, the undeserving, there is good news:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:6-8

Be honest.  Admit you’re undeserving.  Then rejoice in the gift God gave you and love others in the same way.

Entertaining Angels– Movie Review

Standard

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Hebrews 13:2

The other night my husband and I watched the movie, Entertaining Angels:  The Dorothy Day Story.  If you don’t know anything about Dorothy Day, I can only say that learning more about her will challenge you to a more radical kind of Christian love (agape).

As a young woman, Dorothy was not a Christian, but she was always concerned with social justice.  She converted to Catholicism after bearing a child out of wedlock.  Returning to work as a journalist, she felt called to do more than simply write about the plight of the poor — she wanted to do something.  Encouraged by her friend, Peter Moran, she started the Catholic Worker Movement which published a newspaper and established “hospitality houses”  to minister to the physical needs of the homeless and hungry.  Dorothy (and her young daughter) lived with the poor and shared their lives.  Later in life she was jailed multiple times for protesting war and nuclear armament. Some have called her “the American Mother Theresa.”

Dorothy took the words of Jesus literally.  She tried to live her life as He did.  This made many people, even fellow Christians, uncomfortable.  She lived her faith.  She welcomed and loved people most of us would find undeserving and unlovable.  Was it easy?  No.  The movie depicted her frustration, anger and loneliness. Why did she continue?  She felt it was God’s call to her.  What is His call to you?

Martin Luther on God’s Love (Agape)

Standard

God’s love gives in such a way that it flows from a Father’s heart, the well-spring of all good.  The heart of the giver makes the gift dear and precious, as among ourselves we say of even a trifling gift, it comes from a hand we love, and look not so much at the gift as at the heart.

Martin Luther

Christian, Culture, German, Germany

Undeserved Love (Agape)

Standard

Love (III)

George Herbert, 15931633

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
	Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
	From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
	If I lacked anything.

“A guest," I answered, “worthy to be here”:
	Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
	I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
	“Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
	Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not," says Love, “who bore the blame?”
	“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down," says Love, “and taste my meat.”
	So I did sit and eat.

Song of Songs

Standard

The first type of love listed on Michele’s “new month/new theme” post is eros, or passionate love.  When I think about eros in relationship to the Bible, the first thing that comes to my mind is “Song of Songs.”  On the surface it is a lyrical and intimate love poem, possibly intended as a wedding song. The bride and bridegroom address one another in mutual adoration:

“How beautiful you are, my darling!  O how beautiful!  Your eyes are doves.

How handsome you are, my lover! O how charming! And our bed is verdant.”  Song of Songs 1:15-16

At times it becomes unabashedly sensual:

“How beautiful your sandaled feet, O prince’s daughter.

Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of a craftsman’s hands.

Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine.

Your waist is a mound of wheat, encircled by lilies.

Your breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle.”  Song of Songs 7:1-3

There has been great debate about this book.  Why is it even included in the Scriptures?  God is never explicitly mentioned. Some consider it simply a literal story of married love.  If, however, we accept the teaching that “all Scripture is breathed out by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness”( 2 Timothy 3:16) then there must be a deeper meaning.

See the source image

Over the years Christians have seen “Song of Songs” as an allegory of God’s love for His people, Christ’s love for the church and the Christian’s love for the Lord.  Shouldn’t this love be passionate?  Isn’t it appropriate to describe it in terms of the most intimate of human relationships?  Shouldn’t we to know God personally, rather than just know about Him?  Could this be the answer to “why” God chose to include this erotic love poem in His Word?  That’s my guess, anyway.  What’s yours?

New Month – New Theme

Standard

Well here we are starting a new month, where does the time go?  This  month we will be talking about the different forms of love.  In the English language we have one word for love and it is suppose to cover how we feel about a lot of things.  You may love ice cream, but I am sure that you love your children more.  In the Greek language they have several different words that mean love:

Eros   –  passionate love

Philia –  deep friendship

Ludus  – playful love

Agape  – love for all

There are more but this month we will center on these four.  I hope that you will find the blogs helpful and look forward to hearing from you this month.

As always, if one of us is moved to write about something not concerning love, that is okay, we do as we are compelled.

 

God Loves You And So Do I

Michele

100 Days With Jesus–Book Review

Standard

This little gem of a book would make a wonderful gift for a friend.  It includes a presentation page, thick glossy pages and a beautiful photograph with each reading.  The author, Diann Cotton, first got the idea when she found a page in her Bible listing over 250 names and attributes of Jesus.  She began studying one or two a day, hoping to know Jesus better by the end of the year.  Her own research, prayer and reflection led to the book.

100 Days with Jesus by [Cotton, Diann]

Perfect to be used as a daily devotional, each reading includes a name or description of Jesus, the scriptural basis for the name, a definition, prayer and reflection question. The entries are ordered alphabetically, so you can easily find a particular name. The questions could easily be used as a journaling tool if that is part of your daily routine.

Interested in learning more, or purchasing this book?  Click on the link below:

https://beta.lifeway.com/en/product/100-days-with-jesus-P005793050

Jesus Loves Me

Standard

My friend Nancy’s email about music made me think about the simple children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me.”  Although my mom couldn’t communicate much during the last years of her life, she could still sing, and the old hymns and Christian songs were favorites.  Jesus Loves Me always brought tears to her eyes.  My husband and I had a good Christian friend who asked that this song be sung at his funeral.  I think he felt its’ simple message captured the essence of his faith.  He’s not the only person who ever felt this way.  Karl Barth, a Swiss Reformed minister, who was know as one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century was once asked to summarize all the words he had written about theology.  His answer?

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

The words of this song were first published in a novel entitled See and Seal by Anna And Susan Warner.  In the story a young boy named Johnny is dying.  His Sunday School teacher comforts him by making up this little song.  The novel became a best seller in the 186o’s, and the song, set to music by William Bradbury, became the best-known children’s hymn of all time.

 

Funeral Songs

Standard

Last night I received an email from my good friend, Nancy, who is also one of our faithful readers.  She mentioned that she had been at a funeral and the music was just lovely.  In her words:

In keeping with the blog, I went to the funeral yesterday of a dear friend from church. It was the most singing at a funeral that I have ever experienced, and it was perfect. One of the songs we sang was the “Hymn of Promise” that I had sent to you. And we sang a medley of last verses of six old hymns that all spoke of heaven and Jesus coming to “take us home.” There were more hymns- all were affirmations of faith and hope.

This made me think about the songs that uplift me in times of grief.  One of my favorites is “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.”  It’s an Easter song, based upon Job 19:25-26

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God,

Whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

I can’t imagine anything more comforting and hopeful than that word  picture.  Here’s the whole hymn, in case you don’t know it: