Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter & The Song of Solomon

Arguably, one of the most beautiful lines ever written is Song of Solomon 8:6

Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
    like a mighty flame.

This line, it could be said, sums up the reason for Easter, the true meaning of the day. The facts of suffering and death, and the depth of horror that they make known to us, cannot be denied. They must be fully faced and accepted as true facts of life, whether to be accepted or fought against vehemently. The horror of life cannot be minimized, or explained away, or ignored without denying Truth with a capital "T". This is the meaning of the Cross, the beauty and horror of Good Friday. God helps us make sense of the 'depth' of our experience of horror and lets us know that we are not alone in it. We can understand suffering and don't have to minimize or ignore it. It is real, and it is as terrible as it seems.

But in the face of this, in the face of the death of God in the world, the question of despair instantly arises. How can we live in such a world, how can we accept that evil has the last word. In point of fact, we cannot, not just because we are psychologically incapable of doing so, but also because the choice to take the world seriously and deeply imposes on us a responsibility to take both the bad AND the good seriously and deeply. Beauty, wonder, virtue, love and life impose themselves on us just as evil, death and suffering do. They invite us to eternity, to believe in forever. The question is whether we can indeed TRUST that experience. Is the Song of Solomon passage true? This is the central question of life. Is life greater than death, being greater than non-being, beauty above horror, wonder above despair, and love greater than death? Easter is God's way of saying 'yes' to all of these questions. The Christ that dies on the Cross is raised again. The things that we need to accept about the Resurrection are that it was an act of God (that it was not just some psychological projection of the disciples, but that God Himself  acted to make it known), that Jesus Himself was victorious over death (so that we know what was revealed in Him was truly God), and it affirms life in this world as it is lived in this world. 

The horrors of the world are known in the Cross, and the depths of sin are recognized. Love and life remain triumphant, however. Evil and good may seem equally powerful in the world, with evil often having the upper hand. But the pretense to ultimacy is, for evil, merely a lie. For evil is passing, and good is eternal. Every moment of beauty, wonder, life and splendor is eternalized in God. No moment of value passes away, it lives forever in Heaven and in the mind of God. Thus love is not only as strong as death, but much stronger. Christ is risen, God is eternal, and so life is victorious. Amen. 

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