Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

A New Perspective on Christ’s Coming

5 Comments


One of the gifts that arrived in my freelancer inbox a few weeks ago was an invitation to write for the Loose-Leaf Lectionary. One of the awesome things about writing for them is that the assignments come a year in advance, so I’m writing about the seasons I’m currently experiencing. It’s been such a blessing to delve more deeply into scripture and make some new and interesting connections. Since the reflections are my own (and will be credited as such), I can see some of those ideas showing up here, in my blog posts. Last week was one such example, and this week is, too.

One of the daily office readings in the last week of Advent was from the Song of Solomon. It surprised me to encounter it in Advent…and led me to think about how limiting our viewpoint of anticipation of Christ’s coming tends to be. As we approached our commemoration of Jesus’ nativity, I bet most of us tended to focus either on the baby in the manger or the triumphant Messiah returning to inaugurate “a new heavens and a new earth.” And yet…Christ is so much more than either of those images. Christ comes to us as teacher, mentor, stern judge, fellow sojourner—and also as lover, as we hear in the second chapter of the Song of Solomon.

DSC_0025 cloister window 2“The voice of my beloved! Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills…. Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice.” Here, he is in the prime of life—and who could argue but that the resurrection is the prime of life!—and he peers through the windows and shutters of our bedroom bower, seeking to be invited in.

“My beloved speaks and says to me: ‘Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.… The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance…. In the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice.’” He calls us to come away from hiding behind shutters, safe in our accustomed spaces, and run with him in the wilderness. He calls us to experience the hidden crevasses of safety that can be found in even the most challenging of cliff-face climbs. He invites us to join him, out in the world, where figs and flowers will delight us and his company will enrich our lives immeasurably.

Psalm 33:3 encourages us to sing a new song to our God. What might your new song of love sound like in this Christmas season? How are you called to be Christ’s lover, and act on his behalf in this challenging world, in the year ahead?

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Author: Shirin McArthur

I'm a spiritual guide, retreat leader, writer and editor.

5 thoughts on “A New Perspective on Christ’s Coming

  1. Amen and amen! For 15 years now I have been on a mission to reclaim this deeply personal image of God… maybe ’tis the fullness of time as more of us engage in the conversation. Thanks, Shirin.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know the early church fathers were flummoxed by this erotic poem till they settled on transforming it, as was their wont, into an elaborate allegory about Christ’s love for his bride the church. I, however, believe that Christmas is exactly the right season for Song of Solomon, because it’s the season of incarnation, God made flesh, and I could not choose a fleshier passage than some of those from the Song. In the dark of deep winter, we sing of spring, not like Eliot’s Magi but shaking off the night and triumphing with life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Happy Unsettled New Year | Shirin McArthur

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