Week 29 Wednesday

A Home For The Fragile

Today’s scripture selection: Psalms 84-86

Key verse: Psalm 84:3

Most of us, whether we admit it or not, feel fragile now and then.  There are certainly times when we feel at the top of our game.  But there are other times when, for whatever reason, we feel like we need a place of refuge and rest.

The Psalmist assures us, God is that place.

“Even the sparrow has found a home and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar.”

That gentle, peaceful image strikes me – especially the part about being near the altar.  How can that be?  After all, most altars – including the one of ancient Israel – are places of great violence.  They are, by their very nature, known for sacrifice, pain, death.

Yet there’s the paradox.

Hidden near to this place of sacrificial pain is a place of refuge and rest.

So it is, according to Christian tradition, a place near the cross.

It’s difficult to imagine a more painful, horrible death than hanging on a cross for hours.  Movie makers and story tellers over the years have done a “great” job of pointing out just how horrible.

But, ironically, it is through this great sacrifice of Jesus that God draws near to us and offers us a place of ultimate peace and hope – a place where death is defeated forever.

Maybe that image of a sparrow finding a home; a fragile swallow tending to her young – right next to a bloody altar – points to the same thing.

It’s a mystery, one some find to be a “stumbling block” of faith – totally unacceptable.

But embrace it, when you feel most fragile – and I believe you will find the deep, abiding, conquering love of God – at its best.

Prayer: Eternal, loving God, help me to see your love hidden in the sacrificial altar; hidden in the cross.  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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