‘Come to me,’ Jesus says, ‘all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’
These days, is there anyone who isn’t weary and carrying heavy burdens? It’s so easy to hear these words of Jesus and find yourself longing for the rest and relief that he promises. And to imagine the particular ways that things could be made better. Just end the pandemic. Heal those who are suffering. Restore our communities and help us to know peace and wholeness again.
But, as much as this passage invites us to consider and name our weariness, our need for help with our burdens, I think it’s about much more than that.
‘Come to me,’ Jesus says.
Can you hear the longing? The compassion? The desire for relationship.
More than being about our burdens or needs, this is about God’s desire. God’s longing.
The Song of Solomon is a beautiful, poetic love song that is also within the canon of scripture. It’s a song about two figures in love with each other, longing to be together, and the community that they dwell within. Throughout the history of both Jewish and Christian interpretation, there has been this persistent sense that this is a love song about two lovers, but it’s also more than a love song. It’s about God and God’s people. It’s about the beauty, depth, and complexity of the relationship between God and God’s people. And it’s about God’s longing for us.
From a distance, from behind a garden wall, a voice arises and speaks to the beloved. They are present to each other, but separated as well. They can hear each other, but only catch fleeting glimpses of each other. And their presence is defined more by absence and desire than physical proximity.
‘Arise, my fair one, and come away,’ the voice says. For the winter is past, spring flowers appear, and the time of singing has come. Carefully tended vines, figs, and flowers allude to beauty and depth and promise. The hope of things to come. A new season – of growth and vitality. So close you can smell it. But also just out of reach.
This is a carefully tended and cultivated love. These are words spoken by one who has sought out the beloved, waited patiently but with urgency at the walls, calling and proclaiming something new and exciting.
This is Jesus calling to you and to me, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’
This is God’s desire for us.
This includes and affirms our needs, but also transcends them. This includes and requires our desire to get up, to arise, and to seek out the one who is calling, but also transcends our agency. This includes and begins with the challenge and struggle and separation that we experience, but insists that there is more.
Because this is about God’s desire for us.
God’s love for us.
Rarely do we think about scripture, or indeed about God, in terms like these. That’s why the Song of Solomon is so compelling. It’s a deeply human love song, but it’s also much more.
So give yourself a few minutes to page through the Song of Solomon, and let yourself experience the song. Enter into the poem, imagine the figures involved, and join me in marvelling that this in some deep and mysterious way reveals a profound truth about how God feels towards each one of us.
Because we are loved and desired beyond our imagining.
God speaks to each of us, saying – ‘Arise, my fair one, and come away.’