Lenten Theme Hymn: "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say," ELW 332
1I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto me and rest;
lay down, O weary one, lay down
your head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
so weary, worn, and sad;
I found in him a resting-place,
and he has made me glad.
2I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Behold, I freely give
the living water, thirsty one;
stoop down and drink and live."
I came to Jesus, and I drank
of that life-giving stream;
my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
and now I live in him.
3I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"I am this dark world's light;
look unto me, your morn shall rise,
and all your day be bright."
I looked to Jesus, and I found
in him my star, my sun;
and in that light of life I'll walk
till trav'ling days are done.
Text: Horatius Bonar, 1808-89 (Public Domain)
Following Jesus means intimacy with him—intimacy with God. The hymn has Jesus say, "Lay down your head upon my breast," awakening memories of John 13:23, when one of Jesus' disciples reclines against his breast during his final meal before his arrest. That striking description of bodily contact recalls John 1:18, where we learn that Jesus himself, God's only Child, resides at the Father's breast (not "heart," as timid translators sometimes render the verse). The hymn evokes powerful images of interpersonal contact, not only to declare the comfort and solidarity that Jesus offers, but also to reiterate the promise that Jesus makes intimately known to us the God of the entire cosmos, and us to God. The promise is not about tranquil life in a far-off heaven; it is about experiencing that new, abundant life with God right now.
Nourishing and self-giving God, as our restless selves ponder the promise of sharing intimacy and abundant life with you, we rejoice. May that promise spur us to accept ourselves, to love the world with the fervor that you do, and to invite others to share the same. Amen.