[To be read briskly. This poem takes approx. 7.5 minutes to present…it was presented in a worship service preceded by the gospel hymn “God is Love”. Reader One should be a mother.]
One: It was a love story from the beginning.
Two: Come let us all unite to sing, God is love!
Three: Love of Creator for day-by-day creation,
One: love of Adam for Eve,
Two: love of Eve for knowledge,
Three: love of apples, red and juicy ripe.
Two: We wonder, was it love that sent the couple packing?
One: Was it love that barred the gate?
Three: What’s love got to do with it?
One: We wonder as we wander out under the sky…
on a night filled with stars,
is it love that stretches us up into the heavens?
Two: Love lifts us up where we belong?
One: Or love that holds us tight to the earth?
Three: How deep is your love?
One: The world compels with the colours of its countries,
its sounds and tastes, its invitations to drink deep.
Three: I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
my soul can reach.
Two: [smoothly and quickly] Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
One: As part of creation, I create too.
In creating a baby, I discover that mother love
is simple and uncomplicated and wild and pure.
Two: I love you forever, I love you for always.
One: A concentrated longing to have and to hold
from the moment the baby is in my arms.
Two: Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
One: The symbiosis of love, my body giving
what my baby needs in perfect synchronicity.
And this is definitely to be confused with
the feeling I get with that same child
however many years later,
as they walk out the door, going their own way;
Three: no longer mine to have or hold,
One: except in my heart, where love
is the umbilical cord that cannot be cut.
Two: [slowly] I led them with cords of human kindness,
with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks,
I bent down to them and fed them. [Hosea 11:4]
Three: [briskly again] In the march of time, we give thanks
for the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child,
for the love, which from our birth, over and around us lies.
One: Stories of love pouring out of us,
Three: [louder] love,
One: [louder] love,
Two: [triumphantly] all you need is love!
Three: The Bible as a love story.
God making human beings, seeking human beings,
One: longing with love, longing for love.
Two: Jacob, for example,
there’s a man with a soft spot for love.
One: Rachel and her beautiful eyes!
Two: But it’s a story of love given and love denied…
there’s Leah, always the unloved one.
The same with the children,
twelve sons and it was Joseph he loved.
One: Well, maybe Benjamin too, a runner up for love.
Three: Definitely no leftovers for poor daughter Dinah.
Two: And what about Jacob’s filial love, his fraternal love?
Three: Well… not so much.
A liar and a cheat, Jacob had other priorities than loving Esau.
Getting an inheritance ranked higher than brotherly love.
Did he love the old man as he pulled on the goatskin sleeves
and faked Esau’s voice?
Finding himself in hot water, Jacob skips town.
What an unholy mess.
Two: And yet the voice of God echoing through the ages,
“Jacob have I loved.”
One: [wonderingly] Surely God is in this place, and I did not know it.
Two: [thoughtfully] We hear the story of Moses in long and vivid detail,
but the word “love” is mostly absent.
One: [wonderingly] You can feel it, though, in his mother’s arms
as she lays him in the basket,
or in the hovering presence of his sister, Miriam,
knee deep in muddy water.
Three: [briskly again] Moses’ refrain of “Let my people go”
can be heard as God’s love song.
But it’s not a gentle song.
It’s the commanding ownership of love.
One: God’s presence in majesty and might,
in burning bush and petrifying plagues.
Three: [with forcefulness] Love in magisterial form,
bringing justice and judgement:
all righteous indignation to an oppressive Pharaoh.
One: Stop in the name of love!
Two: [more quietly] Looking at Moses, we can see his love for the people,
as he intercedes, walks weary miles,
listens to endless complaining,
Three: [louder] complaining,
One: [louder] complaining.
Two: Moses moving the people ever forward,
to the wilderness and beyond!
Three: [with conviction] Moses bearing all things, believing all things,
hoping all things, enduring all things.
One: [wonderingly] A thousand years later, the prophet looks back
on this story of deliverance,
and what is left is love.
Two: [gently] When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son. [Hosea 11:1]
Three: [briskly again] There’s motherly and fatherly and childly love,
but then there’s that other type of love.
One: Love between lovers is
simple and uncomplicated and wild and pure,
a concentrated longing
gulped down like the elixir of life.
His banner over me is love!
Three: Love is a many splendored thing!
Two: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine… [Song of Songs 1:2]
One: And this is definitely to be confused with
the feeling you get at the kitchen sink
after the big lovers argument
when you wonder why
why is this happening and
a pit the size of a house
opens up in your stomach.
Two: The course of true love never did run smooth.
Three: And for all that, love is never done.
One: Love will keep us together,
Two: [in a loud undertone] we hope.
One: Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave. [Song of Songs 8:6]
Three: To love and to cherish, ripening and maturing,
young love turning into old love,
In some ways not that different, in the end,
from brotherly love, sisterly love,
love of friend for friend.
Two: [joyfully] Beloved, let us love one another.
Three: Wine and music gladden the heart,
but the love of a friend is better than either. [Ecclesiasticus 40:20]
One: No greater love has any than this,
than that they lay down their life for their friends.
Three: And so we learn that
love is a gift to be received,
Two: love is a gift to be given.
Three: For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.
One: Jesus as a gift of Love!
Two: Jesus loves me, this I know.
Three: Kids singing that song at the top of their lungs,
One: [wonderingly] the same song sung quietly at deathbed vigils.
Two: A simple song
One: You think the world would have had it with the simple love songs.
Three: But I look around me and I see it isn’t so.
One: Jesus filled the world with simple love songs…
Two: [joyfully] Let the children come to me!
As the Father has loved me so have I loved you.
Abide in my love!
Three: Sing it loud, sing it strong!
One: Disciples joining together, who knows how,
century after century,
showing love for everyone,
every nation, every race, the alien, the stranger.
Two: Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.
Three: Love even for enemies, even for those who persecute you.
One: Generation after generation, the church telling the old, old story.
Two: “Love never ends” played out
in the life and death of a man killed on a cross.
One: O perfect love, all human thoughts transcending,
revealed, who knows how,
in the emptiness of a tomb on Easter morning.
Three: [proclamatory] Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away!
Two: [wonderingly] Jesus, a second Adam,
risen from the dead,
is born again,
who knows how,
in the hearts of all who even hum a love song,
Three: a song for lovers in dangerous times.
Two: Can you hear the melody, age-old and lovely?
One: To know, know, know him,
is to love, love, love him.
And I do.
Three: And I do.
Two: And I do.