They (we) are Weak… but he is Strong?!?



Jesus loves me this I know,

For the Bible tells me so,

Little ones to Him belong,

They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Yes, Jesus loves me,

The Bible tells me so.


At Rhythms on Sunday, we explored the story of the Baptism of Jesus.  We acted out the story shaking long swaths of blue cloth to resemble the  water in the River Jordan…. we had a giant foam-core dove that came out of the heavens and alighted on our heads… and we all played the part of God, the Father, booming:  ‘This is my son.  I love him. In him I am well pleased.”

We baptized baby dolls, glued feathers onto cardboard doves and played in the water table with shells.

We colored paper dolls to resemble ourselves and taped us all in a cardboard church…  It was a good day.

We  had communion.  At the end of the service, we always sing “Jesus loves me.”  Now, I have mixed feelings about this song.

For example:  don’t you think that we should have other reasons to believe that Jesus loves us other than the fact that “the Bible tells me (us) so?”  What about Anglican discernment and Reason?

The second and third verses are worse- hardly children’s fodder- they dwell deeply in the theology of atonement with neat rhymes: ” On the cross you died for me/ I will try to live for thee.”  The text to this hymn was written by Anne B. Warner, sometime in the late 19th c. when children were treated like miniature adults.  The theology of atonement, when understood quite simply, is nothing short of gory:  God sent Jesus to earth on purpose to be tortured so that we might benefit, somehow…”… and to pretty it up with a quaint tune and words that rhyme and feed it to children seems… wrong.  Thetheology of the atonement deserves some deep reflection and study and prayer.  Otherwise, it is dangerous, I think.  Especially for children who do not make the subtle distinctions that adults do in discerning Truth.

Anyway- we didn’t even get through the first verse before one of our Rhythms kids stopped us for a mini-theological discussion.

You see, she understands that Jesus is strong, but takes exception to being labeled “weak.” 

“I am strong, you know,”  she explained.

I agreed, that she probably was strong… and that was good.  Jesus, too, is strong… and sometimes we need to depend on him for some of his strength when we need it.

It is essential that our Rhythms kids- all of us, really– feel that we have some of our own strength.  We should not sit around and wait for Jesus to do all  the heavy lifting in our lives.   Working our muscles, no matter how puny at first, builds more muscles.  With our muscles comes a sense of competence and empowerment.  Don’t we all  need that?

I love the sweet time that we have singing our closing song each month.  But maybe it’s time for a new one.

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2 Comments on “They (we) are Weak… but he is Strong?!?”

  1. I grew up with that song too, and I cringe when I hear it today. While we consider it a cute children’s song, I think the theology sends a mixed message to us, no matter what age we are.

    How about “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light?” Now that’s a hymn I’ll want to sing along to in my old age.

  2. Hi Sharon!
    I love “I want to walk…”

    I am really hung up these days on the utility ( or not) of “sentimentality.” There is musch ot be said for examining some of these ideas/songs/traditions that we hold so dear… and giving them a second look. We might be surprised at what we see when we take off the sentimental, feel-good glow that surrounds things like this song… and see them for what they are… confusing at best, and delivering theology that is worth a more dignified study.

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