ARISE MY LOVE, MY FAIR ONE, AND COME AWAY!

ARISE MY LOVE, MY FAIR ONE, AND COME AWAY! (Song of Songs 2:13, NIV)

The Song of Solomon, also known as the Song of Songs is a love story. It’s a story of two people falling in love, the one is a suitor and the other the one being suited. It’s a beautiful story about a love that is tried and found true, a deep love that travels the height and depths of emotional experiences, tried in the fires and tumults from the potholes of a love relationship that is so strong, nothing can pull it apart. I am reminded from the powerful message of Gods love: “ For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Jesus comes to us with a similar message: “Arise my love my fair one and come away!” The journey with God is intended to be a love story. We begin with this premise: “God is love”! It is a love story from the beginning and will be a love story throughout our lives and throughout eternity. And, this love will motivate you to move forward, to pick yourselves up when you fall, and to continue in the ups and downs, the triumphs and the heartaches of this world, but underneath it all, is a deep agape love, a love that frees our soul from tyranny, a love that destroys the demons of our world, a love that overpowers all sickness, disease and trouble.

I have not been here for a couple of weeks, but our Sunday readings, emphasize interaction and participation with scripture, and confirmed again this morning in the proverbs of James, that we are called to be doers of the word, not just hearers.

As the psalmist confirms: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Ps. 23)

James is saying to us that we need to allow the law of liberty; the teachings of the kingdom of God, as we are taught every week in in the reading of the gospels and the reading of other scripture are to be listened to, thought about, and then planted, embedded within our heart. It is then and only then that we can begin to practice that word. That’s the message of walking in step with the Spirit, walking in step with the Spirit of Love, the Holy Spirit.

This is what it means to look into the mirror of God, the mirror of truth, and then to actually allow that word, that teaching to transform our life, renew our spirit, change our world view, and give us that desire to live your life the way God wants you to do, regardless of what others do or teachings that go against what God teaches. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all.” Well, Jesus is of course, and when we put the teachings of Jesus into our lives we will begin to look like, talk like and live like He lives. “Arise my love, my fair one, and come away!”

In our gospel reading today, Jesus says: “It’s not what comes into you that defile you, but it is what comes out of your heart that defiles you.” (Mark 7:15) James encourages us to put away the filthiness of the world and allow the love of God, the living Word, the implanted word to bring change from the inside out. In other words, to get rid of the old wardrobe (those things that stand in the way of your relationship with God) and put on a new wardrobe, a new way of living your life, a freedom from fear, a liberty of putting aside the winter of our unbelief and finding solace in following our risen Lord, to enjoy the journey, to take some time to smell the flowers.

“Arise my love one and come away; for now, the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone, the flowers of appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is hear in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one and come away.” (Song of Songs 2:11-13)

How does James describe true religion, true faith? He says that it’s good to clean up the way we live our lives, to seek God in a vertical pursuit, but do not forget the horizontal pursuit. We are called to live in a world that includes love for God and love for others. In other words, we are encouraged to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves, “to care for the orphans and widows”. We are called to care for those that society has discarded, to care for those who are down. Who are the down and out? We recognize them on the street, the hungry the homeless, the sick. But, look around you. Are we caring for the needs of each other, and are we caring for the needs of all people in our community in the best way that we can? Caring for the down and out is true religion and true faith according the letter of James. (James 1:17-27)

The God that calls us into this journey from the beginning to the end, the Alpha and the Omega compels us: “The journey of love has two components, known as the “Way of the cross.”

The Way of the Cross

  1. To care for others—Horizontal love relationship with God
  2. To live a moral and upright life before God—Vertical love relationship with God

Looking into the mirror of God, means that we not look hastily or briefly, but look intently and allow the reelection of the word to become planted within us, and that reflection will continue to shine on us and reveal the way that we should live our lives on this earth.

Arise, my love, my fair one and come away!

Amen

The Reverend Dr. David Madsen

Scripture references: James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23; Song of Solomon 8:1-13