Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

March 27, 2018

Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling

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.

Refrain: 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)

Text: Will L. Thompson (1847-1909)

When my sister and I were young children, my mother would calm our emotions—be they anger, sorrow, agitation, or frustration—with songs. She would pick us up in her arms, sing in a quiet voice and rub our backs. After one or two songs, the world was set right, and we went on our way or, more often than not, drifted off to sleep.

As a parent, I’ve continued this tradition with Thatcher, Brynn and Emerson. And as a result—despite my inabilities as a singer—I can usually calm or lull them to sleep in three songs. I consider it one of my parental super powers.

When my father passed away last year, I needed the consoling power of music. I was overrun with emotions when he died. I was angry he had died at such a relatively young age, depriving my family and me of his company. I was distraught (not just sad) at the prospect of never talking to him again. I sought his wise counsel, awed by his perspectives, and I loved to listen to him laugh.

But I feel somewhat guilty to confess that not all my emotions were negative. When he finally succumbed to death—after seven days in ICU with an intubation tube—I was relieved that he was released from the tortures of difficult breathing. The lung disease was slowly strangling him. And I was glad to be relieved of the burden of another day spent in the ICU wondering what, if anything, would happen to my dad.

I carried this mishmash of emotions with me to his funeral. And it was there that the power of music wrapped itself around me and reminded me of its comforting effects. As my family processed into the sanctuary at the beginning of his funeral, the congregation sang Softly and Tenderly. The images invoked by its lyrics brought me serenity. I could see Jesus standing and waiting for my father, a sinner, with open arms. I knew Jesus was leading him home to heaven and reconnecting him with his parents, who had died many years before.

The song put flesh on the knowledge I possessed of a loving God, rejoicing at the homecoming of one of his children. And with this realization, I felt the mixture of emotions coursing through me subside, and peace reigned in my soul. Clearly, music’s calming power over me continued, despite the passing of years.

Dallas Rakestraw

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