During the early 2000’s, I served as a long term care chaplain at Lutheran Care in Clinton, NY. The chaplaincy department had a portable altar on wheels that I would push to the various floors and hold worship services for the residents and staff. Worship would consist of hymns, one or two readings, prayers and Holy Communion. I would also bring my guitar and we would have a 15 minute hymn sing prior to each of the services. I would ask if anyone would have a favorite hymn to sing. Usual requests would be: “What A Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Amazing Grace,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “In the Garden.” But the song far more requested than any of these was the one most of us learned in Sunday School, “Jesus Loves Me.” It amazed me, especially when leading worship in the Dementia Unit where most times folks might seem unresponsive – once I’d start to sing “Jesus Loves Me,” you could see their eyes light up and those that appeared to be sleeping would stir and at a minimum be mouthing the words…. Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so……
One gentleman who had a beautiful tenor voice would harmonize. I later found out he used to sing in the church choir.
Perhaps it was the familiarity of the tune or maybe it was the words being sung that would stir the souls of those who came together in worship. Maybe it was a combination of both.
To this day, the basic core of my faith is anchored in the words, “Jesus Loves Me.” I give thanks to God for those who instilled those words; lived those words and shared those words with me…. My parents, friends, Sunday School teachers, college and seminary professors, colleagues, strangers….
I am who I am because God has given me grace, forgiveness and love through Jesus the Christ.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Thanks be to God! Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you.
That’s all for now! See you Sunday. Blessed Epiphany season!