I have recently been reading an anthology of love poems. The poems are intimate, tender, loving, passionate and sensual. They contain some wonderful phrases such as ‘I am faint with love….Love is as strong as death, passion fierce as the grave…If one offered love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned…Eat, friends, drink and be drunk with love.’ These poems are to be found in one of the most beautiful and most neglected books of the Bible – ‘The Song of Songs,’ also known as ‘The Song of Solomon.’ There are a number of ways in which the ‘Song of Songs’ can be read: one of them is as a reflection of God’s relationship with his creation.
This week, with its focus on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Day, is the culmination of a love story between God and humanity. Viewing these events against the background of the love poems in the ‘Song of Songs’ illuminates God’s love and commitment to his world.
Amid the pain and suffering on the cross, the murder of Coptic Christians in Egypt and the gassing of innocents in Syria over these weeks, Good Friday and Easter witness to a love that is stronger than death and to a passion that is fiercer than the grave. If we have the courage and will to dig deep beneath the dross, cynicism, cruelty and fear that constantly bombard us, we will find God opening up new possibilities and pointing us to new pathways that can lead us to unimaginable places. God’s love and passion are gifts offered to us all.
This is not wishful thinking. This is not bland optimism. This is not turning one’s back on the harsh realities of today’s world. This is a living hope based on the lives of so many, starting with those first followers of Jesus Christ, ordinary men and women doing very ordinary jobs whose relationship with Jesus led them along paths that were unthinkable. Furthermore, they have had a profound effect on societies and the lives of countless people. This is what the reality of the resurrection did for them – and the offer is ours too.