The First Reading for July 31 is Song of Songs.

Today's first reading is from Song of Songs (or the Song of Solomon) which is exactly what it sounds like. It's a love song filled with vivid imagery, physical language and "amorous" content. The two main characters are obviously in love with other, each longing to see and physically connect with each other. It's a biblical book that catches what love can feel like. This is a book that captures our emotions and experiences. To read the Song of Songs is to see love, longing, and relationships expressed in poetry. So why is this book in the Bible?

The Song of Songs is a book that rarely mentions God. It is not a text that si concerned with the amazing feats of power or that describes what proper worship of God might look like. There are no stories about what God's justice looks like or how we are to take care of each other. There is no narrative, plot, or even characters with names. Song of Songs is a book that stands almost on its own, distantly related to the books around it. But that's okay. Not every piece of scripture is designed to tell a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Like the Psalms, Song of Songs captures human emotions. As human beings, we feel. There are times when we are angry, sad, or incredibly happy. And there are also times when we might be in love. Love is an experience, emotion, and a reality that is hard to put into words. There is no one definition in the dictionary that can describe the fullness of what love is. Love needs poetry to unpack what it looks like, feels like, and what it can represent. And that's what Song of Songs does. It shows love.

We often about God being love and I often preach about our need to love. Song of Songs unwraps a little of what can look and feel like. But love isn't limited to just our emotions or our physical longing. Love is a way of being that challenges us and changes how we view the world. The love we see in Song of Songs is the same love that brought Jesus into the world. The desire for connection and relationship is the same love that drove Jesus to preach, teach, and walk to the cross. The love God used to save the world is the same love we are called to share with our spouses, friends, and even strangers. Love isn't just a noun; love is a verb and the Song of Songs shows just how active love is.