What's really interesting to me is that today the Christian lectionary (the scripture readings chosen for each day of the year) has the following as the Old Testament Reading:
The voice of my beloved!These are probably my favourite verses in the entire bible. The first time I came across them, I felt like I was living in the deepest darkness. But here was God speaking to me like a lover; telling me things were going to improve; that light was returning; that spring was coming again. God called me "my love." That really blew me away!
Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me:
'Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away: for now the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
is heard 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. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the covert of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.'
-- Song of Songs 2. 8-14 (NRSV)
These days, Christianity has a lot of detractors (many of them making pretty good points about how a lot of Christians have lost Jesus' vision to bring good news to the poor, free captives, heal the sick, reach out to the marginalized, etc.) Personally, I think that if more people understood themselves and everyone else to be loved by the God represented in the passage above rather than by a judgmental God, we would make more efforts to care for the forgotten members of society and make Jesus' vision a reality. Acting justly, loving tenderly and walking humbly with God would not be an issue!
If you have a few minutes today, let God call you "my love." See if it doesn't make the depths of winter darkness seem a little less harsh. Here's a link to a little website called Pray As You Go, and if you click on December 21, it will give you today's 12 minute reflection on the reading above.
Happy Winter Solstice!