Ramble for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 8 May 2022
So, I endured periodontal torture this week, when half of my gum line was prodded and scraped at to try to ensure that my teeth stay anchored to my gums for the foreseeable future (which, at my age, might be all of my future before the Lord comes or takes me). The other half will be tortured in a couple of weeks or so.
Custom has it that I weave this personal anecdote into a Ramble. OK, what does the bible have to say about teeth? Much is concerned with words dear to the hearts of those who think that the Gospel is about damning >99% of people for whom Christ died, to eternal damnation. Gnashing of teeth, and all that. But I go for the many instances in Song of Songs, eg ch6, “Your teeth are like a flock of sheep coming up from the washing. Each has its twin, not one of them is missing.” An almost identical phrase precedes it in ch4, both of them following an early chat-up line of mine to Leisa, “Your hair is as a flock of goats, cavorting down Mt Gilead”. You should have seen that luxuriantly curly auburn hair. And then the shepherd’s girlfriend replies, “May the wine go straight to my beloved, flowing gently over lips and teeth.” Amen, says I.
Song of Songs is a most wonderful if under-read book. It stands on one hand as beautiful love poetry in its own right, in a Middle Eastern tradition which takes in the 12thC Persian poet, Hafiz (if you’re stuck for a Valentine verse to accompany chocolates or flowers, look him up). There was much debate, in Jewish and Christian circles, about whether it should be included in their respective canons. Eventually, the Jewish rabbinical consensus was that its attribution to Solomon (false attribution, the book is circa 3rdC BCE) but more particularly that it is an allegory of God’s love for and requited by His people, demanded its inclusion. At the early Councils of the Christian church, the allegory was extended to represent Christ’s requited love for His church.
And that’s where you and I come in. Love is blind is the saying. My teeth will never be featured in an Oral-B ad. That doesn’t stop Leisa loving me. And when Christ looks on you, He doesn’t see blemishes and defects, he sees a beloved soul whom He loves so much that He gave up His life for you. I’m sorry if that makes some self-righteous types gnash their teeth.