Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for youJohn Donne I recently transferred Donne's Feast Day (March 31) so that we wouldn't miss commemorating this wonderful poet. As a part of the dialogue sermon, I offered the above sonnet, simply because it is my favorite from his work.
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Holy Sonnet XIV,
Reflecting on this piece, and the discussion that followed its presentation, has caused me to recall some work I did years ago on the theology of romantic love.
Charles Williams is one of the authors that immediately comes to mind who has written on this topic. Simply put, the idea is that God is madly, head over heels in love with us, and is constantly wooing us, and all of creation, into being.
Dante works with this theme as seen in his pursuit of Beatrice. When he finally catches up with her, he finds the light of love in her eyes, which compelled him to pursue her, was reflected light; the source was the griffin (two creatures in one nature; get it?).
This idea also ties in nicely to one understanding of the Trinity. The Lover (Father) loves the Beloved (Son), and that love is returned. The Flow of Love (Holy Spirit) between them is eternal (beyond time; no beginning and no end).
This Flow of Love has been extended to include us through the Incarnation, in which the Beloved appears in our midst. To the degree we are able to stand in the place of the Beloved (pray and act in the name of Christ), as the adopted (created beings; not of the same nature as the Trinity) sons and daughters of God, we are able to become a part of this same Flow of Love (receive the Holy Spirit). It is then that we become what we have always been intended to be, the Beloved of God.
I think this understanding is essential to grasp before engaging in ministry. If our every word and deed is intended to express God's love, we had better have some knowledge regarding what divine love is all about. There's lots of different understandings of the term "love" floating around. If we don't get that part right, I think our witness to the world becomes less than it could be.
God is madly in love with you. Right now, God is wooing you into being. How will you respond?