Free and Fit NYC - Introduction to the Song of Songs - An Anglo-Catholic Pentecostal Reflection



Free and Fit NYC - Introduction to the Song of Songs - An Anglo-Catholic Pentecostal Reflection 

Introduction to the Song of Songs – An Anglo-Catholic Pentecostal Reflection Throughout the history of the Church, various scholars, preachers, and leaders have commentated on the Song of Songs. Often seen as the most romantic book of the Bible, it provides a gateway to fall in love with God and to discover a more authentic, literal, and affectionate relationship with our creator through symbolic poems and songs of Praise. In our first class on Christian Spirituality in January, at the General Theological Seminary, we reviewed two core points which help me to select today’s title “The Song of Songs, An Anglo-Catholic Pentecostal reflection”. They related directly to the “Character of Spirituality” and examples of the facets of Christian Spirituality. The selected texts for this reflection come from the author’s own spiritual influences. These are represented from working, serving, or actively participating in some capacity in a diversity of Christian communities. These include the Anglican Church of England (HTB, All Souls, Grace Church Hackney and St Marks Kennington), the Episcopal Church in America (Trinity Wall Street, Calvary Church Summit, St Andrews Harrington Park), Hillsong Church (London and New York), the Lutheran Church (Mile Square Church in Hoboken), the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom (Brompton Oratori), America (Our Lady of Grace, Hoboken) and Rome (the Vatican and St Peters Chapel) and, finally, the Global School of Supernatural Ministries in New York City, which originated from Bethel Church, in Redding California. It is imperative to qualify from which perspective we view the Bride and Bridegroom in this text. The Church as a whole is often referred to in the Bible as the ‘Bride of Christ’ and Jesus Christ as the ‘Bridegroom’ (Ephesians 5:22-23). In this circumstance, we find that a more traditional and conservative interpretation of the Song of Songs is a little less intimate in relationship between lover and seeker. In fact, the concept of protecting the Church (as the Bride) helps for us to relate to how Jesus (as the Bridegroom) would like to guard, protect and look after his Bride. It states in Song 8:12 that ‘the vineyard is before me; a thousand peacemakers for you, and two hundred for those who guard its fruit’. Finally, in order to be able to discuss the various spiritual influences sited in our introduction, this reflection will review a variety of different commentaries, devotionals, and translations based on the Song of Songs, with references to their distinguishable differences, identifiable spiritual influences on the author, and ultimately how this shapes the author’s practice of Sport and Spirituality. First Reflection – The Postilla on Nicholas of Lyra on the Song of Songs In our first reflection we look at the Catholic Church and the Postilla of Nicholas of Lyra’s commentary on the Song of Songs. Nicholas of Lyra was born in 1270 in Lyre, Normandy in France. Though he was a scholar of this Hebrew text, he was not from Jewish descent, but rather a Franciscan Friar and preacher. His writings widely appeared and were read from around the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. The text we have chosen has been carefully translated into our modern day English language from the Latin in which Nicholas of Lyra’s commentary was written, in response to the original Greek text that Nicholas would have read and studied. Nicholas of Lyra supports the letter written by Paul to the Church of Ephesus where Paul states that the bride is the Church and Jesus is the bridegroom. This re-emphasizes what we wrote in our introduction in which we address as the Church as Bride and Jesus as the Bridegroom from which this text refers. Nicholas of Lyra states that it is unlikely that the text would have explicitly been about Solomon and his pursuit of Pharaoh’s daughter, as this would be considered a human love, not a divine love or a divine romance as noted by Dr Brian Simmons in his book entitled the Song of Songs “a Divine Romance.” The type of love described in Song of Songs, according to Nicholas of Lyra, is from a higher place than human love. It is describing a more heavenly love; the devout and religious love that is between humanity and its Creator. Nicholas of Lyra states that many Hebrew or Jewish scholars cite that the Song of Songs is similar to that of other parables spoken to the Jewish people, and reflects the relationship between God and the Jews. This love could be referenced in Exodus 20 when God seeks to commune with his Jewish people as if God were pursuing them as the bride she desired to marry. This is where Nicholas of Lyra seeks to clarify and avoid any confusion between Jewish and Catholic faith traditions. He states that it can be said that the relationship between the Bride and the Bridegroom, reflected more exclusively the relationship between God as Creator of all and his creation, but not necessarily as God the Son Jesus, the second part of the Trinity. Nicholas of Lyra states that the Bride would be the wider Universal Church. This helps distinguish the differences between Jewish and Christian faith traditions. Firstly, that the Jewish people before the Christians and then secondly the believers of Jesus and his followers and all Christians thereafter. To clarify, Nicholas of Lyra attributes the Bride to Be the Christian God. Appearing with the Christian Gods and the bride as the Universal Church. Not just the Catholic Church. This would include both Catholic, Protestant, non denominational and all other Christian Churches. In our introduction we spoke about the verse 8:12 in the Song of Songs and ‘the vineyard is before me; a thousand peacemakers for you, and two hundred for those who guard its fruit.’ In this context Nicholas of Lyra seeks to clarify the relationship between God as creator and God as the Son of God. Nicholas of Lyra states that this indeed is God as the Son, Jesus Christ. The structure of the sentence changes from third person to first person and the text here is spoken as if the words were the Lord Jesus Christ as himself speaking directly to the Universal Church as his Bride. Jesus is seen here to be requesting for the Church to rise and respond to his call, seeking for the Church to rally, to protect and guard herself from her present sufferings in the world and rejoice as a Bride. This then leads to a prayer, with the Church building a relationship with her creator through direct dialogue. Verses 8:12 through 8:14 contain detail of how Jesus views the Church “Thou that dwells in the gardens.” Nicholas of Lyra comments that the Gardens of Church often contain trees, and from this picture we can see the Bride as Church Gardens around the globe. Finally, Nicholas of Lyra states that the Angels harkens for the Bride to pray to God, making her requests known, and for Christians to “Make me (God) hear thy voice” through prayer and devout requests. Nicholas of Lyra throughout this commentary uses contextualized theology from his period that displays his rich intellect, personality, and deep relationship with scripture- all done without access to technology, different translations, and Bible scholars from today. Nicolas of Lyra often makes references to other Books of the Bible including the first book of the Songs of Solomon (Psalms) and the second Book the Song of Solomon (Ecclesiastes). In his closing commentary he relates the relationship between Christ and his Bride, the people, as a call to return to Him and seek to be in eternity with Him seated at the right hand of the Father. Second Reflection – The Venerable Bede – On the Song of Songs and Selected Writings The editor of our second reflection on The Venerable Bene, Arthur Holder, is a Graduate from General Theological Seminary (Mdiv), a Priest within the Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Western North Carolina, and is now a Professor at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. The Venerable Bede was an Anglo-Saxon from the eighteenth century who ministered in the area of Northumbria in England. His works were considered of paramount importance due to the lack of Latin speaking English people during his day and the lack of Biblical knowledge amongst lay persons. His scholarship and translation of the Bible were crucial for the purposes of teaching, preaching, and sharing the Gospel amongst the congregations and people in the areas where he lived and carried out his ministry. Bede states that it is imperative to distinguish the difference between the Synagogue and the Church as he explores the first part of the Song and Songs. This site of gathering is the common theme of our reflection. Bede explains that the word Synagogue in Greek means “gathering together (congregatio in Latin)” and ecclesia means callin