United Church of Christ

Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: Sensual

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you recognize God's beauty in others—whether friends or strangers, lovers or passers-by?
  2. When has God surprised you through your senses? Share your testimony of a time when your sense of smell filled you with God's peace, or your sense of touch led you to experience a gift of God's grace, or … , or … , or …
  3. In your faith community, how are the pleasures and the pains honored, celebrated, grieved, and prayed over?

Sensual

How beautiful you are, my love,
how very beautiful!
Your hair is like goats along the hills;
your teeth are like shorn ewes that have been washed;
your lips are like a crimson thread—so lovely;
your cheeks are like pomegranate halves. - Song of Songs 4:1-3

Sure, maybe it's a poem about God. This poet wouldn't be the first one to look at creation and imagine how it reflects characteristics of God: the wind as God's whisper, the sunset as God's smile, a sparkling stream as the glint in God's eye.

It's also possible, despite (or because of!) its location in the middle of the Bible, that it's a poem of physical adoration, a celebration of human beauty, an unapologetic delight in the joys of sensuality. The poet gazes upon a beloved and cannot cease in adoration.

Oh my gosh, your eyes!
My goodness, your hair!
Be still my heart—your smile!

Then again, maybe it's not either/or. To pause in delight, to celebrate a love (and to celebrate the Love of all loves), to be full of wonder, to be satisfied by the mutuality of adoration, to give thanks for the senses and sensualities that make life so acute—these too are gifts of the Creator. As the late Mary Oliver wrote about prayer: "Just pay attention … [this is] the doorway into thanks."

Prayer

Thank you, O Love, for touch and affection. Thank you, O Life, for the flood of your beauty through all of my senses. Thank you, O Creator, for putting my spirit in flesh.


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