Looking for spiritual refreshment? God Pause email devotions are short, meaningful reflections on the following Sunday's lessons and gospel delivered directly to your email box. By Sunday, you'll be ready for an extra meaningful worship experience. 

Our devotion writers are Luther Seminary alumni. Their reflections are a gift to you and to the church.


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Sunday, December 29, 2013

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Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
calling for you and for me.
See, on the portals he's waiting and watching,
watching for you and for me.

"Come home, (Come home,)
come home! (come home!)
You who are weary, come home."
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
calling, "O sinner, come home!"

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not his mercies,
mercies for you and for me? (Refrain)

Oh, for the wonderful love he has promised,
promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon,
pardon for you and for me. (Refrain)

What does it mean for you to "come home;" what might that "home" look like?

"Softly and Tenderly" is a classic invitation hymn from the 19th-century revival tradition composed by Will Lamartine Thompson (1847-1909), who later established the Will L. Thompson & Company which published music and sold pianos, organs, and other instruments. The genius and appeal of this gospel song is found in its repeated refrain which extends the invitation to "come home." This invitation to "come home" may be seen as the invitation to join Jesus in heaven. The hymn is a lullaby that characterizes Jesus as a mother, gently rocking and comforting a child. Interestingly, the hymn was used during the memorial service for assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on April 8, 1968.

In a different sense those who are deployed in the military also long to "come home," especially when they are separated from loved ones over the holidays. They long for a home that is comforting, caring, and life renewing.

We Christians long for our eternal home in like fashion. When hard pressed in life, we desire to enter into fellowship with Jesus who is caring and forgiving. As Revelation 3:20 envisions it, Jesus stands at the door knocking--waiting and watching for you and for me.

Do you hear the call to "come home?" What might that "home" look like for you?

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your invitation to come home. It is comforting to know you stand ready to receive us into your eternal fellowship because of the life-renewing sacrifice of Jesus. As we wait for this glorious reunion, continue to comfort and care for us as we walk through the trials and challenges of this life. In your most gracious and ever present name we pray. Amen.

Ch., Lt. Col. Steven J. Nicolai
Wing Chaplain, Goodfellow AFB, TX; Deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan
Master of Divinity , 1983

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.