In the morning, when I rise, in the morning, when I rise, in the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus.And when I am alone, and when I am alone, and when I am alone, give me Jesus.And when I come to die, and when I come to die, and when I come to die, give me Jesus.Give me Jesus, give me Jesus. You can have all this world but give me Jesus.For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Give me Jesus
Last week, I had a conversation with a rector who’d been at her church for only a short time. It was long enough for parishioners to notice that “things were different.” After church one day, a member of the parish approached the rector and said, “You know, you’re doing something really interesting in your preaching.” The rector braced herself for whatever that was. She said that when you’re new, you never really know what folks are going to say. (Actually, that’s true when you’ve been at a place for a long time.) The rector asked him what it was. He said, “You’re talking about Jesus.” She tried to cloak her surprise, and said something like, “Well, yea. That’s my job!”
That reminded me of another story I heard a few years ago from a friend, a rector, who had a parishioner make an appointment with her on the Monday morning after her first Easter. This congregant had grown up in the parish. She said she was very concerned about the new rector’s Easter sermon. It contained “too much Jesus” in it. My friend laughed, thinking she was joking. The parishioner assured my friend she was serious. My friend asked what a person would preach on Easter if not Jesus. She said: “Perhaps something from Buddha.”
I’m graced to be able to take a morning prayer walk listening to the rhythm of Atlantic waves. I have a list of loved ones for whom I pray, those facing deep and varied challenges. Of late I’ve been praying for our broken world, as we contend with considerable coincident crises, and as we face tomorrow’s election and what it says about who we are. On these walks in recent days, a song has kept coming into my head: “Give me Jesus.” The text is above.
I’m not exactly sure why that song has come to me so persistently. What does Jesus have to do with this season of our lives? As I pray about health crisis, economic crisis, racial divide, polarized electorate, kids in cages, creation crying out, I wonder if the prayer “Give me Jesus” might be overly pious or naïve or escapist or irrelevant. Is it sufficient to meet the tasks at hand?
Maybe it is. Give me the Jesus who turned tables over in the temple. Who wasn’t afraid to label leaders whited sepulchers. Who touched lepers when no one else would. Who healed wherever he went. Who broke religious rules so he could heal on the Sabbath. Who hung out with a Samaritan woman of ill-repute and with tax collectors everyone hated. Who found power in service. Who wept at his friend’s grave. Who stretched out arms of love on the hard wood of the cross between two low-lifes who had the audacity to mock him. Who gave his life. Who brought new life.
So let me add a few stanzas:
- When I’m fretting over election results, give me Jesus.
- When I’m irked by people who disagree with me, give me Jesus.
- When I’m bummed about people who disappoint me, give me Jesus.
- When it’s hard to forgive, give me Jesus.
- When it’s hard to believe I’m forgivable, give me Jesus.
- When religion seems too flawed, give me Jesus.
- When I feel too flawed, give me Jesus.
- When the world’s pain seems too great, give me Jesus.
- When I see my part in causing pain, give me Jesus.
What stanzas would you add this morning?
Four decades ago, good and saintly friends lost their 9-year old daughter to cancer. In his eulogy, the priest who pastored the family described the young girl’s final moments. The last thing she did was to take the sacrament of bread and wine. She then said to her parents: I need Jesus. She turned into her natural sleeping position, one she had not been able to find for weeks, and slept, and died. The priest proclaimed that this young girl had reached the most profound, mature status of life, which is needing Jesus.
On the night before he died, Jesus said to his friends: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27) Are we talking too much about Jesus? Maybe not enough. If ever we needed the Lord before, we sure do need him now.
Please continue in this season of prayer for an election. Learn more at www.forwardmovement.org/election.
Consider a great resource in pandemic when we’re spending time at home:
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