I had to dig deep into my purse for this one.
I’ve been trying—and, of course, failing—to maintain a low profile on the Roosevelt blog since my over-the-top political presence this past year. I lost a lot of friends. I figure that I better not lose anymore. And talking about love might do it. Maybe?
But I dug into my purse and found—no joke!—FIVE church bulletins with notes. The series actually covered eight weeks, so I’m missing some. I will, however, offer some gems, and I’ll post the links to the entire series below. I REALLY RECOMMEND WATCHING THEM.
I’ll just go through my poor bulletins now, but I’ll embellish—I mean, interpret—them. Perhaps one might begin by reading all of Song of Solomon. A poetic interpretation of marriage—not only a picture of Christ and the Church, but also a picture of our own marriages!
Sorry about missing stuff—including the big sex sermon notes.
February 12, 2017: Sex is a married thing?
March 5, 2017: Oh, well. I kinda latched on to one phrase Pastor Vermon said: marriage can be uniquely life-giving and uniquely soul-crushing. TELL ME ABOUT IT. Wasn’t it Charles Dickens who said it was the best of times, it was the worst of times? He was talking about marriage, right?
(Here’s Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we . . .” Man, I need to read this book.)
There were a lot of takeaways. I think I appreciated the emphasis on the necessity for authenticity, a sense of nakedness. Ironically (?), it takes authenticity to write good fiction too. I’m into authenticity, as is my husband. It’s a blessing. But sinners suck too.
To what extent are you yourself in your marriage?
March 12, 2017: This one offered something I had not ever heard before (though others probably have). Vermon said that Solomon goes “meta” on us. I know this term from literature! A meta-narrative is a story that allows for self-awareness; it’s self-referential; it “violates” the artificiality or the suspension of disbelief—kinda giving a wink to the audience. Have you ever read A Series of Unfortunate Events? You know how Lemony Snicket sometimes breaks out of the story to tell you something? He’s going meta!
(I love Lemony!)
Solomon goes meta! He writes this amazing poetry about marriage, and he does so with self-awareness of who he is. He is not, quite simply, this guy. He’s got concubines and wives galore. And this was a bit of a revelation for me. I still have trouble knowing how to properly read this book—but that helps. I always knew he wasn’t advocating polygamy, but it’s easier to grasp when one realizes Solomon’s artistry under God’s authorship. I get how artists aren’t as great as they sound.
(Or as bad, sometimes?)
March 19, 2017: Scott Rose preached. Well, listen. My very first thought when I hear all this stuff about the bride: There’s. Just. No. Way.
That fawn/gazelle/teeth stuff just doesn’t apply over here.
I am not your girl.
I think this is a challenge offered throughout this book. How are we, the imperfect, to read this? How are those of us without gazelle-like qualities supposed to read this?
But this is a call to love fiercely, to see uniquely: We must love, regardless of the consequences. I’m not so sure we think of it that way. We can be stingy with our love—bartering or withholding oftentimes.
I also liked the part when Scott discussed how Song of Solomon is, in part, a flip of Genesis 3. In Genesis 3, we read that the wife’s desire will be for her husband. In Songs, it’s the husband’s desire for the wife! Wha?????
(I’ve also got some interesting contradictory teachings on that Genesis 3:16 passage: “your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you.” First, I’ve heard that this is part of God’s promise, His restoration. In other words, God in His goodness will restore woman to her proper place, under the rule of the man. THEN, I’ve heard that this is part of the curse, following the Fall in Eden. In other words, sin has resulted in this subservient position—being ruled is part of the curse, not restoration. I’m going with the former. WHICH ALWAYS MADE MORE SENSE TO ME ANYWAYS.)
March 26, 2017: Vermon got all excited about a phrase he had heard a little over a decade ago: “Holy Ghost Jesus Fire.” Uh-oh, this sounds a little charismatic to this Frozen Chosen Gal! He gave it a theological spin, noting how we often settle for something less than a Holy Ghost Jesus Fire kind of love.
(Note to Vermon: Please note that I am the FIRST to ask. If and when you should perform the marriage ceremony of my girls, will you throw in this phrase?)
Do we settle? Vermon gave some humorous examples. Consider how people sound when asked about marriage.
May I speak from the point of view of Frozen Chosen Gal? When I was single and I’d be talking to other FCGs who were married, I got an earful of how great it was, but, um, it didn’t sound so great. And it definitely didn’t look great. Still, I wanted it.
This desire, so intrinsic to us, is interesting.
But Vermon was really right. Sometimes, you ask someone, “So why did you get married?” And the answer comes at you sounding like a bunch of scientists examining ice! There’s no passion, poetry, intimacy! FCGs will undoubtedly mention key buzzwords: dominion, cleave, submission, as Christ loves the Church. I am not dissing ANY of this, but what happens to us that our love becomes so chilly, so distant?
Scientists examining ice.
As Vermon went on to note, our marriages look less like Holy Ghost Jesus Fires burning and more like a dead campsite. We sigh and say, “There used to be a fire here.”
There were really two gems from this sermon, I thought: the Holy Ghost Jesus Fire bit and the radical revelation for me as FCG. I think I’m not alone in saying that I have NEVER heard a sermon, let alone a sermon series, on this book before. I HAVE heard, about a million times, sermon parts that focused on Ephesians 5. Let’s cut the pastors and teachers some slack. It’s considerably easier to talk about Ephesians.
But the REVELATORY PART: What’s discussed in this one chapter (Eph 5) looks like or is realized or is lived out in the entire book of Songs! WE DO NOT OFTEN HEAR THIS!
We’re not talking about the scientific examination of ice!
Ephesians 5 is broadened, splayed out, given vitality in this earlier ENTIRE book of poetry. Let’s talk about cleaving!
I’m missing a lot here—this is not a series summary. I’m also not as brave as Vermon and Scott. I really did think it was brave to give sermons on this stuff. My own marriage was challenged by listening. In a good way, I mean. My kids were not present for these sermons, and I think that was best. Truthfully, I’m not sure when is the “best” time to hear this series. I wonder how I would process it as a single woman? Now, old married lady, I took it calmly but it was thought-provoking. Yay, my marriage is on the good side of the spectrum! BUT how might this affect the single, the sad, the unhappily married? And what if—THIS IS OFTEN THE CASE—one spouse wants to “work” on it, and the other doesn’t?
This went a long way in exploring a difficult book. Yes, this offers a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church, but how refreshing to admit and acknowledge that it’s about people too.
I would encourage you to take a look at the sermon videos.
Love is a Divine Fire: March 26, 2017—I’ll add it soon . . .