A Sermon Preached by the Rev. Susan Allison-Hatch
Sometimes I just feel like singing. Singing from the rooftop at the top of my voice so that the whole world can hear. Singing my heart’s delight. Singing my saddest songs. Sometimes singing just because it’s good to be alive. There are times when folks just have to sing.
Falling in love is one of those times
-- falling in love with a lover, a partner, a spouse
--falling in love with a newborn
-- falling in love with a community
-- falling in love with God
Take a minute. Still your mind. Listen in to a love song; listen in to the Song of Songs:
“The voice of my beloved. Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills....Look, there he stands, behind our wall, gazing through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me, ‘Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.’”
Listen for the melody. Hear the beat.
“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
Do you hear echoes? Echoes of love songs you know--songs you sing. Take a minute. Let the music play in your mind. Listen to the I-pod in your heart.
Hear the echoes of songs of new love.
Songs you hum with a smile--songs that put a bounce in your step-- songs that make you quiver.
I’ve been hearing echoes of Ella Fitzgerald all week long.
“In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble--they’re only made of clay. But our love is here to stay “
There are other times that call for other tunes--times for singing the “you don’t know the half of it dearie blues”. Times for humming along with U-2’ “With or Without You or The Supremes’ “My world is empty without you babe” or Bruce Springsteen’s “Empty Sky”
Take a minute to hear the haunting tunes of songs that carry you through the hard times, the lonely times, the times when love seems hidden. Listen for echoes of the blues. Even the blues are a kind of love song. People don’t sing the blues if they haven’t known love or longed for love.
But the song we hear today from the Song of Songs is a song about the blush of new love.
“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come.”
That’s a love song, one of many love songs in the Song of Songs. Listen in. Hear the lovers as they sing--songs of new love and songs of love longed for.
“You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes...”
Listen, too, for echoes of the blues in the Song of Songs.
“Upon my bed at night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.”
That lonely lover might as well be singing along with U-2,
“Sleight of hand and twist of fate
On a bed of nails she makes me wait”
*Some people wonder what the Song of Songs is doing in the Bible.
*Some people say the Song of Songs just doesn’t fit with the rest of the Bible.
*Some people say, “Save it for weddings.”
But I wonder if the Song of Songs isn’t of one piece with the rest of the Bible.
Isn’t the Bible, like the Song of Songs, a collection of love songs and the blues--songs of gratitude, songs of praise and songs of lament, songs that tell the story of a grand love that endures through good times and bad.
Take a minute. Listen for those echoes of love songs.
“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.” sings the psalmist.
Mary sings, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in you, O God, my Savior, for you have looked with favor on your lowly servant.”
You can hear echoes of the blues in the Bible too.
The psalmist cries, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept….
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”
The song Jesus sings from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
There’s another love song embedded in the Bible--the love song of God for God’s creation. It’s a song of faithfulness, a song of persistance, a song of delight. The love song of God for God’s beloved. We all are God’s beloved—short and tall, male and female, easy to love and easy to dislike, fearful and brave, gay and straight, old and young—all the beloved of God.
And we are all lovers of God.
How do we, lovers of God, sing a song to our beloved? How do you and I sing a love song to God?
We do it through our prayer--in the duets we sing with our beloved—both our prayers of thanksgiving and our prayers of lament.
And we do it through our worship. Each week our awakened hearts sing out love songs to God.
Yet James cautions, that’s not enough. It’s not enough to sing praises with our lips. It’s not enough to gather in worship. Remember, James says, “…be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.”
James calls us to sing a love song with our lives. Indeed, our very lives make up our love song to God. That’s dicipleship—our love song to God.
A song we sing as we walk the path of Jesus of Nazareth
--serving the poor
--tending the sick
--reaching out to those excluded by others
--turning the other cheek when we’d just as soon issue a caustic retort
--working for justice when it might be easier to duck and cover
--spreading God’s reconciling love to those whom we encounter along our way.
How do we sing a love song to God?
We sing it with our lives.