Devoted love is like vintage wine  

Paul in Athens quoted from a secular Greek poem when preaching on Mars Hill, the Areopagus (Acts 17:28).  Here are four meaningful lines extracted from a long secular Victorian poem, otherwise irrelevant to any celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The final word ‘enow’ is Old English for ‘enough’; and we can think of the pronoun ‘thou’ with a capital ‘t’ for him who said, ‘in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise’ (Hebrews 2:12):

‘Here with a loaf of bread beneath the bough,
A flask of wine, a book of verse – and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness –
And wilderness is paradise enow.’ 

Our chosen ‘book of verse’ would hardly be Isaiah (see my sister, my bride, … I drank my wine’ Song of Solomon 5:1-2):

‘My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.
            He dug it and cleared it of stones,
            and planted it with choice vines;
            he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
            and hewed out a wine vat in it;
            and he looked for it to yield grapes,
            but it yielded wild grapes.’ 

The Song of Songs would be most appropriate. It opens with such poetic lines as: ‘your love is better than wine(my sister, my bride, … I drank my wine’ Song of Solomon 1:2) addressed to ‘the Beloved’ by the shepherd lass, and: ‘we will extol your love more than wine (my sister, my bride, … I drank my wine’ Song of Solomon 1:4) by her girlfriends. Our ‘Beloved’ expressed his love most fully at Calvary which we celebrate in a ‘loaf of bread’ and a ‘flask of wine’.

            ‘Greater love has no one than this,
            that someone lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13),
he said at the first ever communion meal.

Later in the Song of Songs the Beloved replies:

            ‘How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
             How much better is your love than wine’ (my sister, my bride, … I drank my wine’ Song of Solomon 4:10)

as he responds to her devotion, ‘my sister, my bride, … I drank my wine’ (my sister, my bride, … I drank my wine’ Song of Solomon 5:1). In the upper room at Passover he had said, ‘I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until … I drink it new in my Father’s kingdom’ (Matthew 26:29). So, now ponder those four meaningful lines:

‘Here with a loaf of bread beneath the bough,
A flask of wine, a book of verse – and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness –
And wilderness is paradise enow.’

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