May 9, 2022
Come Away to the Skies
(The Hymnal, 213)
Come away to the skies,
my beloved, arise
and rejoice in the day thou wast born;
on this festival day,
come exulting away,
and with singing to Zion return.
Now with singing and praise,
let us spend all the days,
by our heavenly Father bestowed,
while his grace we receive
from his bounty, and live
to the honor and glory of God.
For the glory we were
first created to share,
both the nature and kingdom divine!
Now created again
that our lives may remain,
throughout time and eternity thine.
We with thanks do approve
the design of that love
which hath joined us to Jesus’ Name;
so united in heart,
let us nevermore part,
till we meet at the feast of the Lamb.
Hallelujah we sing,
to our Father and King,
and his rapturous praises, repeat:
to the Lamb that was slain,
sing, all heaven, and fall at his feet.
I’ve heard choral/hymnal music lovers criticize happy/clappy songs, calling them “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs. But many of our best loved hymns use romantic imagery to talk about God’s love for us and vice versa. This is fitting. The scriptures do as well. Song of Songs, Hosea, Revelation, and even the Apostle Paul refer to God and his people in terms of a romantic relationship.
In making this Easter playlist, this hymn was a new one for me. But one listen, and my heart accepted the invitation to “come away to the skies.” I was reminded that I am Jesus’s beloved, and he is mine. We hear the echoes of the invitation in Song of Songs. “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away…. let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely……My beloved is mine and I am his” (Portions of Song of Songs 1:13-16).
As a person with depression, I am more likely to be like Job, to curse the day I was born rather than rejoice in it. But when I heard this hymn, I was so giddy with love, that I could rejoice in my born day!
God’s original intention in creating us was for us to share his nature and his kingdom in loving relationship with him. We are re-created for this same relationship in the resurrection of Jesus! Created, and created again. The Fall is why we needed to be re-created, but it is not mentioned in the hymn. It seems to be of little account in the joy of the relationship restored.
“We with thanks do approve.” God’s love for us is convincing but not coercive. The way of human relationships makes it difficult for us to believe that gentleness and humility are stronger and more powerful than violence and dominance. Being God’s beloved is not forced upon us. But when we live in our beloved-ness, we become safe in who we are, just as we see Jesus is safe in who he is as the beloved of the father.
No matter who you are, what you have done (good or bad), what has been done to you, where you live, what your income is, you are loved. You are loved with a love beyond all human loves. You are loved with a love stronger, more powerful than death!
No, Jesus is not your boyfriend, but he loves you with the love you have always longed for.
For further listening:
“Head Over Feet” by Alanis Morissette