It's an expression of affection. It means, "hugs and kisses." When I was a teen, you looked for those letters at the bottom of notes passed to you in class from your girlfriend. Nowadays, I see that little collection of letters at the bottom of notes from friend to friend. What was once pretty much reserved for a romantic connection is more a gesture of simple, social affection. There is a degree of intimacy implied, but not too much. It has come to mean, I believe, "thinking of you fondly and with affection." That is opposed to, "I wish I was kissing and hugging you right now. Much as the French might say, "Je t'embrasse," or, "Bisous." One means, "I embrace/kiss you." The other, "Kisses." These are simple expressions, expressing affection. Longing, however, is a different matter.
Throughout the Song of Songs, we have had the opportunity to bear witness to the longing of one love for another. Some of the imagery has been quite erotic. All of it reminds us of those moments in life when the thought of a person we long for not only fills our thoughts, but intoxicates our very senses. There is a sense of being overwhelmed with the other. Longing becomes something that takes us up out of ourselves...the challenge is to accomplish that in such a way that a just life is affirmed and confirmed in love. The "embrasser" require, not just implies, radical trust between the parties. It is covenantal, even though it is intense. It is more than arousal...it is also completion of the self in communion with the other.
It's a lot more than just a bunch of X's and O's. Real love, beyond the romantic, is also a lot more than pretty words and steamy images.
Our glory as humans is our passion, but for that passion to mature into something holy we need a double-dose of compassion to grow that passion into something mature and godly.
When it comes to faith, those same requirements attach as well. Even as we grow and mature in love, so also we need to grow and mature in faith. Paul's lauding of the Thessalonians works that point: they saw/heard the Good News and embraced it with passion. They loved it with abandon and it changed their lives. They then had to continue to grow and mature. What Paul is excited about is that the Thessalonians seem to have been able to do that, as opposed to the folks in Corinth or Ephesus. They are orienting in the right way, and not getting lost in the heady rush that sort of refreshment can induce.
So, as we prepare to depart the Song of Songs, let's give thanks for these powerful, potent and romantic writings. They speak of love, between humans...and teach us/revive us in our memories of the longings we have known: both for the others in our lives and for God who has authored and blessed us with full measures of both compassion and passion in this life.