Week 38 Saturday

The Gift of Welcome

Today’s scripture selection: Philemon

Key verse: Philemon 1:17

The apostle Paul is known for his great theological treatises.  But there is a small New Testament letter for which he is lesser known.  Nevertheless, it earns its right to be in the New Testament canon.

It’s a letter appealing to a slave owner named Philemon for a slave Paul had come to love named Onesimus.

Paul talks about how this slave had become a brother in Christ to him – and that he hopes Philemon will welcome him as a brother too.  It’s a great testimony to just how deep Christian love goes.

Paul writes, at one point, “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.  If he has done any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.  I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand.”

Isn’t that great?

In a world where slavery was common – where it was part of the normal commerce of the world that one human being could “own” another – Paul makes a personal appeal for something else.

He wasn’t talking about the abolition of slavery as a social institution.  He was talking about showing the love of Christ to someone, just as it had been shown to him.

In today’s world – we would do well to take that same request to heart.

There are so many who still live in “bondage” of one type or another.  Isn’t the least we can do, as children of God’s kingdom, to express welcome to them just as God has welcomed us in his grace?

Prayer: Lord, help me to always be a welcoming person to others, no matter who they are or what they’ve done.  In Jesus’ name, 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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