The Beauty of Wisdom

8/29/2021

Message Title: The Beauty of Wisdom
Theme:
Words of Wisdom
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Song of Solomon 2
Scripture Reading: James 1:17-27
RCL Scripture: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9; Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9; Psalm 15; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Focus: The book Song of Songs shows the beauty of life as a form of wisdom.
Function:
To remember that God built us for community and love and embrace ways of connection.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: James 1:17-27  17 Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. 18 He chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created. 19 Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. 20 This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, with humility, set aside all moral filth and the growth of wickedness, and welcome the word planted deep inside you—the very word that is able to save you. 22 You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves. 23 Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. 24 They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like. 25 But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do. 26 If those who claim devotion to God don’t control what they say, they mislead themselves. Their devotion is worthless. 27 True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.

SERIES INTRODUCTION: This Sunday we are starting a new series on the Wisdom literatures. Over the course of 5 weeks, we will hop through passages in Song of Solomon, Psalms, and Proverbs (we’ll save the others for another day.) Join us as we glean wisdom from scripture!

WORDS OF WISDOM:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What’s a favorite saying that one of your grandparents would say?
    1. Some Facebook responses
  2. Jim Tigner
    1. “you’ve seen one waterfall, you’ve seen them all.”
    2. My grandfather doesn’t sound like he appreciated beauty. But I’ll tell you he had a deep love for his peach trees, neatly mowed his grass, and large mouth bass.

TRANSITION: Our first passage for this wisdom series is in Song of Songs or Song of Solomon. This, book knows about beauty!

INTRO TO TEXT: The Song of Songs is one of those books that may perplex the reader—why was this included in the holy scriptures? “Song of Songs” suggests this is the “best” song of all time. The book is attributed to Solomon, and some have assumed this book was about Solomon’s romance with a woman, however the type of Hebrew used in the text suggests that maybe it was even centuries after Solomon’s life. Perhaps Solomon’s reign inspired the words of this passage?

The book unfolds a love story between two people and some of the text can get rather explicit for biblical text though perhaps not for a modern ear.

Depending on your translation- there may even be notations showing who is speaking (the man or the woman), however that was not part of the Hebrew, that is part of the translator’s conclusions while translating the text.

MAIN TEXT: Song of Solomon 2

[Woman]

I’m a rose of the Sharon plain,
        a lily of the valleys.

[Man]

Like a lily among thornbushes,
        so is my dearest among the young women.

[Woman]

Like an apple tree among the wild trees,
        so is my lover among the young men.
In his shade I take pleasure in sitting,
        and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
He has brought me to the house of wine;
        his banner raised over me is love.

Sustain me with raisin cakes,
        strengthen me with apples,
        for I’m weak with love!

His left arm is beneath my head,
        his right embraces me.

Make a solemn pledge, daughters of Jerusalem,
        by the gazelles or the wild deer:
Don’t rouse, don’t arouse love
        until it desires.

Listen! It’s my lover: here he comes now,
        leaping upon the mountains,
        bounding over the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
        or a young stag.
Here he stands now,
        outside our wall,
        peering through the windows,
        peeking through the lattices.

10 My lover spoke and said to me,
“Rise up, my dearest,
        my fairest, and go.
11 Here, the winter is past;
        the rains have come and gone.
12 Blossoms have appeared in the land;
        the season of singing has arrived,
        and the sound of the turtledove is heard in our land.
13 The green fruit is on the fig tree,
        and the grapevines in bloom are fragrant.
Rise up, my dearest,
        my fairest, and go.
14 My dove—in the rock crevices,
        hidden in the cliff face—
        let me catch sight of you;
        let me hear your voice!
The sound of your voice is sweet,
        and the sight of you is lovely.”

15 Catch foxes for us—
        those little foxes
        that spoil vineyards,
        now that our vineyards are in bloom!

16 I belong to my lover and he belongs to me—
        the one grazing among the lilies.
17         Before the day breeze blows
        and the shadows flee,
    turn about, my love; be like a gazelle
        or a young stag
        upon the jagged mountains.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. My goal today is not to splice the details of this passage or even the whole book. Yes, we could get lost in the particularly rich imagery and connection to culturally specific language (i.e. raisin cakes were considered an erotic treat.)
  2. Instead, I want us to consider the general wisdom God is giving us in this book.
    1. Song of Songs is a poetry which portrays the beauty of life and love between a betrothed couple.
    2. The assumption of the man being Solomon is discredited when one thinks about the fact that Solomon had over 700+ female partners. This couple speaks of their need for each other alone.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. For a long time, the assumption has been that Song of Songs was an allegory between God and God’s chosen people. Christians have taught that this is an allegory between Jesus and the Church. (First off, don’t think too hard about the racy parts if that is the case.)
    1. However, as time has passed and archeological digs discover new artifacts, we have learned this style of romantic poetry was common of the era.
  2. Consider for a moment, the Song of Songs, not as an analogy or metaphor, but simply as a love story.
    1. WHY is this book in our Bible if it isn’t to tell us something about God?
      1. What if this book was a gift given to us, to remember what pure love can look like in a relationship?
      1. What if Song of Songs is to remind us of the love God intended—don’t hear what I’m not saying in this moment—for humans to experience?
        1. Vulnerable connection, passion, trust

APPLICATION: To remember that God built us for community and love and embrace ways of connection.

  1. Not every Christian is called to marriage, but we are all called to love and be loved. We are called to community.
  2. Let’s take some time to reflect on community:  — you are welcome to shout out an answer or to reflect internally–
    1. When or how do you feel the most loved?
    1. What ways have you been lacking connection or community?
  3. Continuing to build bridges–We want to look for ways to rebuild broken bridges and restore communities.
    1. Mentoring- gathering names
    2. Sunday School—starts the 2nd Sunday in September.
    3. Spiritual Listening Workshop
    4. Grace Tables for 8- gathering names for October
  4. Reflection on our Spiritual Listening Workshop
    1. Friday night 15 of us got together for the beginning of our lessons with Beth Broadbooks.
    2. By the end of Saturday, 9 of us had done some difficult work.
    3. I’m quite proud of them, honestly. Perhaps some of them have emotional or vulnerable hangovers today.

CONCLUSION: We were given this beautiful world and one life to live. We were plopped down into a community and given the opportunity to help it flourish. Let’s keep looking for ways to dig in deeper and love bigger.

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