Thursday, March 27, 2014

Portals Into God’s Presence: O, How I Love Jesus

Last night I had the pleasure of worshipping at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, in Somerset, NJ. My pastor, Rev. Dr. Ronald L. Owens was the preacher for their Lenten service. My heart was not only warmed to be in worship one more time, but also because the hymn for the night was, “O, How I Love Jesus.” I was glad because we were singing a hymn. I’ve said it before—and will continue to say it—I love a good hymn. Next to the Word of God, my faith was given language through the theology of the hymns I sang as a girl. In an effort to reach young people, many churches are opting not to sing hymns in worship. This young, funky preacher loves the old and the new. I believe, if used prayerfully and considerately, that tradition can usher us into greater intimacy with God. All that is to say give me a hymn any day.

But besides loving a good hymn, I love this particular hymn. As I think about today’s moment of grace, this hymn embodies the very grace of God.  The first things of God’s grace is love; God’s unconditional, radical, looked beyond my faults and saw my needs kind of love as expressed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. I can love God—with every fire of my being—because God demonstrated and continues to demonstrate to me how much I am loved by God. As I prepared my Big Girl for bed tonight, I sang this hymn sweetly in her ear. I want her to know in her head and heart that God loves her and, because of God’s amazing love for her in Christ, that it is a pleasure to love God in her worship, her witness, and her walk.

There is a name I love to hear, 
I love to sing its worth; 
it sounds like music in my ear, 
the sweetest name on earth.  

O how I love Jesus, 
O how I love Jesus, 
O how I love Jesus, 
because he first loved me!
It tells me of a Savior's love, 
who died to set me free; 
it tells me of his precious blood, 
the sinner's perfect plea.

It tells of one whose loving heart 
can feel my deepest woe; 
who in each sorrow bears a part 
that none can bear below.

If you forward a minute and a half or so into the video, you will hear Kim Burrell give this hymn life. It's short, so when the music fades I dare you to begin to pick up where she left off and declare your love for Jesus in song. Enjoy!

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