Week 46 Wednesday

Like Precious Ointment

Today’s scripture selection: Psalms 131-133

Key verses: Psalm 133:2-3

It’s a lovely passage; full of rich symbolism.

“It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion…” (KJV)

What is the Psalmist talking about?

He’s talking about unity: specifically, brothers and sisters of faith living in unity.

The KJV uses the old word “brethren” to talk about people sharing a common purpose; a common love. And he uses images of holy oil, dripping off the beard of priest – and snowmelt running off the mountain range to provide the water for a river far below.

Sadly, in many cases, the rich imagery doesn’t match reality.

For thousands of years people have been at each other’s throats; often over matters of faith.

So many wars have been fought; with each side claiming God is on their side.

I have a reference book in my office that lists literally thousands of different denominations – all claiming to be Christian – yet many who are in heated conflict with one another.

I think such divisions – in a world that is already sorely divided – sadden God’s heart.

But, such is human nature.

And so – it remains a rich image – an ideal – and little more: this idea of “brethren” living in “good and pleasant” unity.

Still, it’s worth working for, in small and large ways, a little at a time.

May we learn to live together; listen to each other; learn from one another; even while preserving our traditions and cherished beliefs.

I’m not advocating “selling out” so that our faith loses its integrity. I’m just talking about finding some common ground when we can. It could prove to be holy, anointing oil for some very wounded hearts.

And I think that would make God very happy indeed.

Prayer: Lord, in a broken and divided world, help us to find unity when we can. 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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