My first official job in the church began when I was in junior high school when I was asked to play the piano for the kindergarten department of our Sunday school, replacing their current pianist who was going off to college. One of the songs we sang every week was ... you guessed it ... "Jesus Loves Me."
These days I do many services in nursing homes and one of the most requested hymns is "Jesus Loves Me." Almost everyone, I want you to know, sings at least the first verse by heart.
Karl Barth (the Swiss theologian) was at Rockefeller Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago during his lecture tour of the U.S. in 1962. After his lecture, during the question and answer time, a student asked Barth if he could summarize his whole life's work in theology in a sentence. Barth allegedly said something like, "Yes, I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother's knee: 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.' "
From the first times a child begins to realize the blessings of God's love, to a mature believer who takes comfort in being in community with others who know God's love and share with each other stories of God's faithfulness; this song speaks from our hearts more eloquently than words we summon from our heads.
Most of us reading this editorial fall somewhere in between these two examples, into what I like to think of as the discovery phase, learning about yourself and others and being open to people getting to know you.
We are developing wisdom. Sometimes we call it insight, intuition, life experience or seeing things clearly through the eyes of a child. This wisdom is part of our core being; part of God's presence in our lives.
When we connect our wisdom to God's wisdom, all sorts of amazing things begin to happen.
We begin to see God's creative work more fully, rejoicing in the beauty of nature and delighting in the complexity of both the similarities and diversities within each person.
We delight in things we create, sometimes working alone and sometimes together. Think about some of the things you've made or helped to make for which you are most proud.
A meal: who was it for and what did you make?
A garden: what did you plant and how was it used?
A vocation: who do you work with and who is better because of what you do?
A perspective: how did it evolve and why are you pleased because of it?
A child: have you told this child how proud you are of them lately?
A recovery: how long has it been, who blessed you in that process, and who have you blessed?
A vital congregation: who are your key co-workers and leaders?
An inspired mission: can you remember whose idea it was or doesn't it matter any more?
A special group of friends: are you good at welcoming new friends into the group and helping folks feel they belong?
When we followers of Jesus sing "Jesus Loves Me" may we lean more strongly on God's wisdom to understand that God's love is not just for us but for all in whom God delights. Let the dance continue!
- Bernstine is the executive director of United Churches of Lycoming County.