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Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it

25th November 2019

One of the most beautiful and perhaps surprising books of the Bible is the Song of Solomon, or Song of Songs. It is a collection of sensuous love poems which I have sometimes cheekily read to pupils by way of introduction to the fact that the Bible is truly a library full of different types of writing. So why was it included in the Old Testament? Well over the centuries it has been interpreted by both Jewish and Christian communities as a metaphor for God’s love for his people. However it has also been taken more at face value, to be a song about the physical love between a man and a woman and for the reformer John Calvin, such love could itself be the divine manifestation of love. Certainly it is testimony to the power and intensity of true love that can withstand even the most difficult times.

The focus on love is appropriate this week as we enter the season of Advent and Christians around the world begin to prepare and wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the love of God made manifest in human form. Yet for many of us it is all too often a time of intense busyness in which any hope of manifesting God’s love in our own lives towards others (or to ourselves) becomes sorely tested! But maybe we could do things differently this Advent? Advent speaks to the yearning in our souls for hope in our lives and in the divided world in which we live. Whether religious or not perhaps we need to slow down and spend time reflecting on the changes we want to see and be. Perhaps we need to nourish our ‘souls’ through what we choose to read, listen to, observe and how we respond to the needs of our neighbour. Just as it is the journey rather than the destination which can enable our growth, so Advent can be a time of growth in which we might become receptive to the love that cannot be ‘quenched’ or ‘drowned’ and that, Christians believe, is most fully visible in Jesus Christ. As RS Thomas (a favourite poet of mine!) wrote in his poem ‘Kneeling’, ‘the meaning is in the waiting’.

Mrs C Crossley

Many Waters