As usual last week on Sunday we gathered round the table, making room for all who come and we prayed. And then we had check-in time. The homework of being the MOST LOVING disciples ever the week prior and to create a 3-point (or step) plan on how to be(come) better lovers (more loving — if you prefer!). There were stories of how being loving, taking the time to appreciate or notice someone, made such a difference — observations on how trying to love others returned love to ourselves! And the honesty too that there were times when we were not as loving, times we failed as being good lovers too. One offered the reflection too of being the recipient of great loving — taking a moment to name how being able to receive love is one element of loving others. While others made mention of being present, being available to offer help/care to someone. Some themes that rose included being present, being open to where people are, being in reciprocal relationships (ie being able to give and receive love), being open and able to listen. One theme that I didn’t hear but I do think is useful (required perhaps!) is one of forgiveness — that part of being loving necessarily involves forgiveness.
After hearing some of the plans, including introducing ourselves to our neighbors, we turned to the scripture selection of the day. Which did create a bit of a stir….we turned to Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs) 7:6-9 & 8:6-7. It’s a selection of poetry in the Bible — and it can be uncomfortable, or avoided with it’s language of passionate love between a lover & beloved! (The Bible has SO much in it!) And there are so many ways that this book and these passages can and have been interpreted, and while getting some chuckles especially with 7:6-9 — these selections (and the whole book) invite us to appreciate the beauty of love, the transformative nature of love, the strength and power of love — and that PASSIONATE nature of love. Love is not something “ho-hum” — it is strong, stronger than death! This is how God loves us, passionately! This is how God invites us to love others! (And no not only romantically, but it provides a useful frame from which to more fully understand how God loves each of us!)
So we continue with this journey of love. Talking through these verses. Talking through how passionately God loves us. Talking about what could that mean for each of us, for the church, for the whole body of Christ. And we come to the homework assignment of course. Which has 2 parts:
- Part one: pray. Pray for our community — for relationships, marriages, partnerships — for their protection, their thriving, for grace to be present in them. Pray for relationships that our children and youth can see — healthy, nurturing — life-affirming relationships — honest relationships. Pray over relationships in our community.
- Considering the 3-point plans that were mentioned for how we as individuals can be(come) better lovers, create a 3-point plan for how we AS A CHURCH can be(come) better lovers (of each other, of our community, of our world, of God!)
This assignment is special in a different way, you have 2 weeks to be doing this. 2 weeks to be praying over the relational thriving in our community, for healing over hurts, for forgiveness, for growth and 2 weeks to be thinking seriously on how we as a church can be(come) better lovers. There will be NO ADULT STUDY this coming Sunday (yes, in 2 days @ 9AM — no class) — so the homework will be due for conversation on the 22nd of July.
See you on the 22nd — and happy Loving!
In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater