Week 18 Sunday

The Torn Curtain

Today’s scripture selection: Mark 15-16

Key Verses: Mark 15:37-38

“With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.  The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

     One of the most poignant, and powerful parts of Mark’s accounting of Jesus’ death on the cross is found in the section where he mentions the tearing of the curtain of the temple.

     There was a large, heavy curtain in the Jewish temple of Jerusalem that separated the people from what was known as the “Holy of Holies.”  Only the High Priest of the people could enter that space – and only once a year.  There were even arrangements made so that, should an unworthy priest be struck down by God while in that space, his body could be dragged out without anyone else entering.

     Think Indiana Jones and the movie special effects showing God’s awesome power; if you are a little older, think Cecil B. Demille and equally impressive cinematic effects – again showing just how awesome God is.  Think lightning and thunder; smoke and fire; cherubim and seraphim – you get the picture.

     But when Jesus dies on the cross; that curtain separating God from the people is torn right down the middle.  And there will never be a barrier between us and God again.  That is, other than the one we ourselves put up by rejecting God’s offer of grace.  For me, there isn’t much more than can be said about the meaning of the cross.

     So the next time you feel separated from God – for whatever reason – think about that torn curtain.  God has opened the way.  He is waiting – not with fire and brimstone – but with love – to accept you.  All you have to do is enter the “holy of holies” and commune with him.  No barriers – just an invitation to come – as the old hymn says, “just as” you are.

     That is what grace is all about.

Prayer: Lord, I come, just as I am.  I stand in need of grace; I stand in need of love.  Thank you, for inviting me, to come to you and receive.  Amen.


By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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