“While Smiling He Has Spoken Our Names”

For conference Sunday this past June, the hymn that Bishop Goodpaster requested be sung at local worship services happens to be one of my many favorites. “Lord, Your Have Come to the Lakeshore” (UMH #344) was an addition to the “new” hymnal adopted by The United Methodist Church about 20 years ago. Our music director then, Jackie Dunlap, introduced it to our choir and congregation, and its lilting Latino melody quickly became popular with those attending Wingate UMC. We haven’t sung it as much in recent years, but I did have at least one of our congregants suggest that we needed to do it more often.

The words and what they have to say are wonderful, but there is a particular phrase which always happens to touch my heart. In the chorus it says:  “O, Lord, with your eyes you have searched me, and while smiling have spoken my name…” I love that image, and that idea that Jesus, though knowing all the crummy things that are part of me, would still smile while speaking my name.  It is exactly what I hope He would do while thinking of me — smile.

I hope that because I know the tender feeling I have for people, of whom when I think of them, a smile just appears on my face. It is because they are the folks that I know and love. These include family and kin, brothers and sisters in Christ, co-workers, etc.  Though I know they are not perfect, they still cause a smile and a tender feeling in my heart.

I was musing on this idea recently, postulating that if we want Christ to smile when He thinks of us, or says our name, then as imitators of Him, we should be doing the same. That also fills the bill, for me, of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But just as I was ready to pat myself on the back for being able to do something that God expects His disciples to do, I realized that there are those that have come through my life for whom nothing but scowls cross my face when I think of them. I have even spoken certain names with tones of contempt. Such actions are the result of my perceptions of how I or my loved ones or other innocents have been badly treated or harmed. But even my so called “righteous” judgment is wrong.

Our Lord certainly has much more reason to scowl and be contemptuous of His treatment by we children of God, who so often choose our own comfort and pleasure over His. Yet over and over, He forgives us, and tenderly encourages us when, as I know I need to do, we decide once again to try harder to follow his example.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me a little nudge the next time I find that I’m thinking ill of someone that Jesus holds in love, which covers us all.

Perhaps that little snippet of song playing in my head is God’s gentle reminder that I am called to love all just as He does.

Remember, you too can share your favorite hymns, and why they mean so much to you, by submitting your own “Inspiring Notes” to me or our newsletter editor.

~ Susan Hendrix

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