A Distant Place
Today’s scripture selection: Jeremiah 42-46
Key verses: Jeremiah 46:27
There are some Christians who would just as soon do away with the “Old” Testament. It’s filled with stories from a time and place that seem so distant; so unapproachable. Stories of ancient Babylon and Egypt swooping down on Israel; entire nations being exiled into foreign lands, what does that have to do with today? Maybe more than they think.
Exile can happen in many ways. We need not be thrown into chains and prodded by the sword to march against hot desert sands to understand what it is about.
Exile can be a very personal and private affair. You might find yourself sitting in your cubicle in a crowded office; pressed up against others on a subway; or sitting at home next to others – and still somehow feel in “exile”.
When that happens – remember the words of Jeremiah spoke to his people, on behalf of God,
“Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel. I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile.”
Whether or not you are literally “in a distant place,” far away from home and security – or you are only there metaphorically speaking – God understands and cares.
So often I have heard people in my congregations speak about how at times of the year that were meant for celebration – Christmas and Easter – they felt sad and lonely. So often have I talked with people who lamented the fact that they are surrounded by others, but feel isolated just the same. The sorrows of life take their toll.
I don’t have any easy answers for moments like that. But I do have the answer – the promise of God who somehow, mysteriously, but consistently finds a way to reach through the isolation and touch us with His love.
Exile is real – but so is the rescue God offers.
Take heart – you are never alone.
Prayer: Father God, in times of exile, help me to remember your promise of love, forgiveness, and peace. 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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