Love in Fulfillment
All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves.
While not commonly associated with the season of Advent, the Old Testament book Song of Songs can offer us a fresh way to see the birth of Jesus the Messiah. This often-overlooked book provides a vivid picture and understanding of God's love for us—an important matter at any time of year.
The prose shared between the devoted lovers in the Song of Songs is one of expectant love longing to be fulfilled and delighting in it and each other when it is. As we expectantly await the celebration of the nativity, of the Christ this season and the fulfillment it brings, I invite you to consider anew Jesus as the lover of your soul.
The ancient rabbis who collectively decided to include the Song of Songs in their sacred canon viewed the work as a distinct expression of love between God and his people. The Song depicts two people in love expressing their profound affection for each other. It is a moving portrayal of faithful love that is quite relevant for the Church today.
In her book "Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament," Ellen Davis argues that the Song of Song's message, through its profound mystical and poetic nature, encourages the Church today toward transformation. Indeed, a thorough understanding of the Song serves to cultivate a longing for intimacy with God, moving us to seek healing in relationships with others and with creation. We are to act in partnership with a loving God on a mission to reconcile all things under the lordship of Christ Jesus.
Even more than a partnership, to understand Christ as our lover should be to see ourselves as his bride. We are betrothed to him through an everlasting covenantal bond. We are the bride of Christ and he is our loving groom for whom we wait in eager expectation for the consummation of our union. It is with this in mind that we sing with the psalmist: "Show us your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation" (Psalm 85:10).
Let us view this season of Advent as a celebration of our betrothal to Christ. As we do, may we bear in mind that preceding this monumental engagement event, God sent prophets and messengers to herald the coming good news to a love-starved world: "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned" (Isaiah 9:2). Like the coming of a new dawn after the darkest of nights, we receive the news that we have been betrothed to a loving and faithful redeemer. God incarnate—Immanuel— has come to ask for our hand. And because of his great and boundless love for us, he pays the bride price by laying down his very life. It is finished. "My lover is mine and I am his" (Song of Songs 2:16).
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear" (Revelation 19:7–8). We say "yes to the dress" as we await our glorious wedding day!
During this expectant season, let us mark the coming of the Christ child as the beginning of our betrothal in earnest. May we rediscover Jesus as our romantic and pursuant lover and bask in rewarding intimacy with him until the day of our eternal nuptials. As we do, may he continually fulfill his faithful promise to love us with an everlasting love. Amen.
— Kevin Villegas, M.A. director of international student programs