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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lord Jesus, think on me, and purge away my sin.
From earthborn passions set me free, and make me pure within.

Lord Jesus, think on me, amid the battle’s strife.
In all my pain and misery be thou my health and strife.

Synesius of Cyrene’s fifth-century hymn “Lord Jesus, Think on Me”
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

As my residency at Fourth Church comes to an end and I prepare to say good-bye to two deeply meaningful years, I will really miss writing devotionals. Why? Because they make me wrestle with scripture and reflect, and in this case, it’s on a hymn. I don’t often like hymns that speak about purity and sinfulness. The idea of purity in the Bible is related to ritual cleanliness—setting time, energy, and resources apart for God and was also sometimes related to hygiene. However, in our day purity is used to condemn—we’re “damaged goods” or we’re selfish, thusly impure.

It’s not because I don’t believe in sin—I certainly believe in the human condition of sinfulness in which we can be so destructive to our world and to one another. It’s just that that’s not the whole story.

I believe it to be very Presbyterian to admit that even at our best, we can still be selfish, short-sighted, and unhelpful, but if we are to believe the whole of the gospel, God takes us at our worst and our best and makes it beautiful. God makes beautiful things out of earthen clay and out of chaos. God makes beautiful things out of fragile ones like broken reeds, smoldering wicks, and vessels with hidden treasures.

The beauty of this hymn is that it is an intimate song to a God who knows us deeply, who hears us as we say, “Lord Jesus, think on me.” Right now, as you read this sentence and as your heart longs for affirmation, Jesus thinks on you and wants to tell you: some things are loved because they are valuable, and some things are valuable because they are loved. You are loved. Think on that.

Lord Jesus, think on me. When my life feels small and wandering, when my world seems upside down and my problems mount, when I feel alone or that all is lost, think on me. Help me to remember that I am yours and that I am loved. Amen.

Written by Edwin Estevez, Pastoral Resident

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