A woman once told me that her mother had forbidden her from reading the Song of Songs when she was young. She was allowed to read any other book in the Bible, but because of the explicit sexuality of the Song, she was not allowed to read it.
Such open and detailed celebrations of sexual love are unfamiliar in many Christian circles. Yet, the language is beautiful, and the poetry is deeply moving. Perhaps one of the reasons our society has become over-sexualized is that we have forgotten how to celebrate the beauty and sacredness of our sexuality – and of our bodies – in this way.
Throughout the ages God’s love for God’s people has been described using sexual language, and many commentators have applied the words in today’s reading to
God’s relationships with God’s people. While for most of us the deepest intimacy is
always reserved for the one person to whom we give our deepest selves, we are, nevertheless, called to acknowledge all people as sacred and worthy of love, and to learn to celebrate the beauty and “belovedness” of every person. There is no question that this was how Jesus lived, and it is the way to peace, joy, and justice for all of us.
While the practice of praise is usually directed to God, in acknowledgment of God’s glory, grace, and majesty, it also teaches us how to appreciate every person we encounter each day. Tomorrow, make a point of praising and celebrating something good, true, or beautiful in everyone you meet.
As I praise you for your goodness and glory, O God, so I celebrate the sacredness of all people.