God is calling us: “Arise, my beloved, and come with me.” Even after Jesus’ resurrection 2,000 years ago, his disciples were unsure of which direction to take. It was at that time that the resurrected Jesus spoke to his disciples, saying, “My beloved, arise and come with me” (John 21:15-22).
Last Easter Sunday’s service was truly enjoyable. How was your experience? The people were friendly, the food was delicious, and the conversations were pleasant. Thank you to everyone who contributed to making it a success. I hope to have the opportunity to worship like that every week.
After an exciting time of worship and fellowship, I found a quiet place to pray. I asked God, “How many points would you give our worship today out of 100?” I was curious to know God’s perspective on our worship. God revealed to me the score. Are you curious about the answer from God? Drum roll, please. The score was 1 point out of 100. Surprised, I asked the Holy Spirit again, “Is it really just one point?” Then, I felt the Lord’s comforting presence, and He showed me one candle on a birthday cake. All of this happened during my prayer time.
The Holy Spirit provided an explanation for the vision, saying, “John, this vision signifies a new beginning for Lakeridge Church through this Easter Worship. Expect new and exciting things to happen here. Faith, hope, and love will flourish in this community. Forget about the past struggles and move forward with me as I will be your guide.” The meaning behind the number that God showed me during my prayer was wisely answered, despite my foolish question about how to score worship.
God is calling us, saying, “My dear one, come with me.” Where should we go? Where is God leading us? What guidance is God offering us? What kind of growth can we experience through following God’s path? Moreover, what responsibilities do we have according to God’s promises? What actions do we need to take to fulfill God’s promises?
God invites us into a fellowship of love and guides us towards a place where grace abounds even more. Most importantly, God presents us with opportunities to deepen our understanding of Him. The love of God is immeasurable, and its vastness is beyond comprehension.
Today’s reading, the Song of Songs, tells the story of Solomon and the Shulamite woman’s love affair. Despite being included in the canon, the Song of Songs posed challenges for Jewish readers and interpreters even before the time of Jesus. Throughout history, various interpretation methods have been developed and passed down, including allegorical interpretation. Since early Christianity, many theologians have commonly interpreted the Song of Songs allegorically as a covenantal love relationship between God and His people. Indeed, numerous spiritual interpretations view the relationship between King Solomon and his beloved as a metaphor for the relationship between God and His chosen people, the Church.
According to the allegorical interpretation, God speaks to his beloved Church through Solomon, calling us to join Him on a journey. “Winter has passed, the rain has stopped, and the flowers have bloomed. Let us go on a trip together.” God’s invitation beckons us to leave behind the past hardship and embark on a deeper union of love. Will you answer His call and embrace this love journey? Jesus promised us a life of abundance when He said, “I have come that my loved ones may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Do you have the abundant grace and mercy of God in your heart, inspiring hope for the journey ahead?
We are living in a time of grace, where love can flourish. Jesus died on the cross. He brought hope and love as he returned with a resurrected body. With the power of resurrection, now is the perfect season to fall deeply in love with God and deepen our relationships with those around us. We are blessed with resources such as Seattle Covent Church, Center of Hope, Preschool and AA group, which function as team ministries. God has given us the greatest commandment: “Love one another.”
Christ’s suffering was our suffering, bearing the shame of our sins. But now, standing before us as the resurrected body of Christ, He calls us to the seat of love and life. Perhaps you could ask me the question, “Is it a good time to love, Pastor? My child is too disobedient.” Or “Is it a good time to love, Pastor? I can’t go on living because life is unfair, and people bully me. Despite my efforts to love the other person, it appears that they have no desire to reconcile with me. They are not making any effort to restore our relationship.” In truth, these questions may not be directed towards me, but rather, they may be my own struggles as I wrestle with God. In other words, it may be not your questions but my questions for God.
God’s response to these questions is to say, “Rise up and follow me.” This means that God calls us to a place of prayer in the midst of difficult situations. “My beloved child, come to the seat of prayer.” It is important to note that God is not cruel or vindictive, and hardships are not given to us solely to make us pray. Let me put it this way.
The grace of God that we experience through prayer is truly sweet. Even during times of peace, God bestows great grace upon us, but in times of suffering, He grants us double the grace and comfort. Prayer is not a task or obligation imposed upon us, but rather, it is a great blessing. Last week, I received a vision of a new beginning for our church and was moved to embark on a 40-day prayer journey. Despite spending up to 3 hours in prayer each day, I am filled with joy and excitement, and the time seems to fly by as I converse with God.
Through my time of prayer, I gain the spiritual strength to love others, not just for the sake of enjoyment or pleasure. I also gain the courage to forgive the faults of those who oppose me, and the wisdom to mend broken relationships. One important lesson I have learned through prayer is the power of kindness to overcome hostility. “Kill your enemy with kindness” is a wise adage that reflects this truth.
Recently, there is a relationship around me that has made me feel uncomfortable. When I talk to this person, they often misunderstand my intentions, and have been speaking negatively about me to others. In my prayer, I asked God for guidance on how to handle the situation. During my prayer, I saw dozens of snakes. As I tried to fight them off, I found myself turning into a snake as well. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Feed the flesh and blood of the Lord to the snakes.” So, I fed the sacrament to the snakes, and as they consumed it, they lost their strength and fell to the ground, leaving only their empty skins behind. In the end, only a small worm remained, which Jesus crushed under his heel.
Certainly, it was not the snakes themselves that made me uncomfortable. Rather, it was the evil spirit that took advantage of the broken relationship and entered into my spirit, causing me distress. I did not interpret the vision as a directive to give the sacrament to evil spirits. Rather, it was a reminder to me to pray more fervently, to bless and show kindness to the person who was causing me distress, even when it was difficult to do so.
Dear brothers and sisters in the family of faith, this is a good season to love. Let us take advantage of this season to deepen our love. Let us rise up spiritually and spend time in prayer together with God, growing closer to God and His love. Let us also seek opportunities to serve those around us with greater diligence and compassion. May God’s abundant love fill us and overflow into the lives of those we encounter.
Second Sunday of Easter, April 16, 2023, Song of songs 2:10-14
Lakeridge Lutheran Church, Pastor John Kim