‘Arise my love, my fair one, and come away ...
the time of singing has come.’
- Song of Songs 2:10,12
“The Song of Songs describes a lover standing at the latticed window of a house, calling to their beloved to come outside and share the delights of a beautiful garden. It is a love poem, a form that mystics throughout the ages have used to speak of the soul’s relationship with God. That call, ‘Arise my love, my fair one,’ is addressed to each of us, and the ‘singing time’ is now.
The Song of Songs continues, ‘... the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom ...’ (S of S 2:12-13). That special song is the natural chorus of creation, life itself, in which we have our own part. It is the definitive love song that enlivens us as we grow in the womb, that sits on the tip of our tongue throughout our lives, and serenades us as we pass through the veil of death.”
The Healer’s Tree by Annie Heppenstall
This Sunday is Valentine’s Day, and our five week worship series “Love Does” will culminate in an Agape Feast on readings and hymns celebrating God’s divine love. We will hear, in particular, how that love became visible in the story of Christ’s transfiguration. Love, and her other face, awe, illuminate us with Christ.
Even so, quick on the heels of this Feast of Love will come our liturgy of Fire and Ashes on Wednesday written by our dear Rev. Elsa Cook. (Find her meaningful fireside Ash Wednesday liturgy by going to uccaustin.org/ashwednesday.) You may also join us at 6PM online as we together welcome in this holy season of Lent and prepare for the liturgy of Fire and Ashes.
A celebration of love on Sunday immediately followed by a liturgy of loss on Wednesday! Love followed by loss. This comfort and grief are almost too much to hold together in the same week. And yet, perhaps true love and deep grief are simply two sides of the same coin; it is said that these two forces - love and suffering - are the only paths to spiritual growth. True love of God and neighbor always leads to the cross.
Even so, take comfort in knowing that we worship Christ who knows what it is to both love and suffer. What’s more, never give up hope, knowing our God is a God of resurrection. Just when grief, pain, and ashes seem to be closing in, God rolls away the stone, shining in a new day.