This week’s Home Brewed Worship material reflects on the Song of Songs, sometimes known as the Songs of Solomon. SoS is a collection of poems, collected and curated to tell the story of a couple’s love as they find each other, lose each other, long for each other and dream of each other.
We rarely read the book as it rarely comes up in the Revised Common Lectionary but it’s a great day when you get to read it and remind people that it exists.
This week’s material includes a playlist for the week of songs that speak to the week’s readings, a Prayer for Others that would be a great way to begin or end each day and a couple of invitations to explore the scripture further.
We’re inviting everyone to send in your favourite love poems, or love songs, bonus points if you can send a video of you reading them or singing them… Email them to email@example.com to have them included on our website and facebook page.
Call To Worship
Prayer – Celebration of faith.
God is with us. This we celebrate.
For we have seen the signs of grace in every place, in every generation.
The beauty of the creation, in all its pristine wonder,
is not the only dwelling place of the creator.
This, our God, is born again in cities as well as country stables.
Is found in holy places and the supermarket,
sits with us in coffee shops,
and in the lonely homes of isolation.
The spirit dances on concrete
and holds in comfort those who walk with briefcase and shopping bag. The God who is more than we can ever name or know
is beside us in every work place and every hidden home
of our body, mind and soul.
This Week’s Readings:
Singing The Scripture
Prayer for Others
Adapted by Brooke from The Children’s Society UK. Perhaps this can be a daily prayer in your house this week, either as a way to begin or end the day.
God of compassion, at this time of crisis, we bring before you the people
of our country and the world.
We ask for your blessing and strength for those working tirelessly to
protect and save life.
We pray for the vulnerable – especially children – who are at greater risk during this time:
those who are not safe at home;
those who may be plunged into even greater poverty;
those whose mental health may worsen;
those who feel abandoned and alone.
Draw near to all who suffer in mind, body or spirit. Provide strength and
courage, helping all to find hope, refuge and a way forward.
We pray that those who have authority and control lives would use that
power for good, to always remember the little ones and be a voice for
We pray for charities who are struggling at this time to keep their
vital work going. Help them find new ways to support people in
challenging circumstances. Bless their efforts, at home and abroad,
and keep all safe from harm.
Loving God, we lift up the people, situations and places close to our
hearts. We ask that You would place your hand on these situations
and provide wisdom, comfort and healing.
Faith with Others
What Does Love Feel Like?
Have a conversation with a friend, spouse or your family about what you think it means to be in love, perhaps you’d like to share a story of love, or of a time you loved someone else and how that felt.
A Love Poem
Read a couple chapters of the Song of Songs and write your own poem of longing and hope, imagine that you’re one of the characters in the book writing to the other, or perhaps there’s someone in your life that you’d like to write a poem for to express how you really feel about them.
If God is interested in our words of beauty, of longing, of hope how do you respond to words of poetry, either reading them, or writing them as you have done today?
Sharing the love
If you’re sitting around the bible with your children perhaps you’d like to share with them one or two experiences you’ve had with love. What have you learned from those experiences? What does love feel like? How does romantic love differ to other ways you’ve experienced love?
What have you learned about god through your experiences of love?
Dancing To Love
Put a love song playlist together, listen to some of the songs this week, turn the volume up high and dance to the music.
Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One
(Boaz’ Song to Ruth)
by Thomas John Carlisle
Eve and After: Old Testament Women in Portrait (Eerdmans, 1984)
Rise up, my love, my fair one. Come away.
The winter of my witlessness is past.
My concentration on the harvest may
have made me heedless but I see at last.
The mist that filmed my mind is over, gone.
The fairest of flowers appears and it is you.
The singing in my heart has me undone
and I am glad and now know what to do.
The figs have ripened. Vines are in full bloom.
Their fruit and fragrance are as naught to all
your luxury which floods away my gloom
and makes me more than eager for your call.
Arise, my love, my fair one. Come away.
This day of days shall be our wedding day.
Sending / Benediction
The Song of Songs is a celebration of erotic love, not surprisingly its literal reading was quickly abandoned in favor of allegorical readings in much of Judaism and Christianity where it has been read as symbolizing the love of God or Christ for Israel or the Church. A literal reading requires coming to terms with the raw sexual desire and gratification called for by this woman to her man in the scriptures which many readers found — and find — incompatible with their notion of scripture in spite of the fact that these verses are enshrined and canonized in scripture.Wil Gafney reflects on the Song of Song’s reading for this week on the Working Preacher Podcast here
What does it mean to love a landscape?Writes Elaine James as she reflects on this week’s Song of Songs reading on the Working Preacher website
The Song of Songs has often been pitched in one of two ways: either it is an allegory about God’s love, or it is erotic poetry about human love. (As it is the only really sex-positive text in the Bible, by all means preach on that!) But to cast the debate as an either/or undervalues the complexity of the poetry. Rarely do people acknowledge the many other kinds of love that the Song encompasses. These include the love of land.
“What in the world is this doing in the Bible?”
It’s a not an uncommon reaction to a first encounter with the Song of Solomon (or, as it’s known from the Hebrew title, the Song of Songs). A love song between a man and a woman full of lush and sometimes erotic imagery hardly seems appropriate for Holy Writ.
But here it is, in our Bible and in our lectionary readings. “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag….My beloved speaks and says to me, ‘Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away'”Writes Kathryn M. Schifferdecker
In a day and time when music and movies simultaneously extol and exploit love distorted, abused, and taken for granted. In a day and time when there are women’s shelters to protect women and their children from domestic and/or family violence. In a day and time when human/sex trafficking rivals the drug trade for illegal financial gain. In a day and time when headlines daily affirm that women around the globe are kidnapped, raped, and disrespected. In a day and time such as this, we need to hear the Song of Songs.
We need to hear voices that speak boldly of true love. We need to be reminded of what love can be. Scholars tell us there was much debate whether to include this book in the sacred text. The text is richer and the world is forever blessed and grateful for those who won the argument for its inclusion.Writes Alphonetta Wines as she reflects on this week’s Song of Songs reading on the Working Preacher website
The By The Well Podcast discussed the Song of Songs reading this week, and offers a great reflection on wisdom literature this week.
The Working Preacher Podcast explored all the readings for this week’s Lectionary, they also provide some great written reflections on the other readings from this week here.