Hard Labor

Hard Labor

Today’s Scripture Selection: Exodus 1:13-14

“…so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.  They made their lives bitter with hard labor…in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.”

This year, as I write these words and reflect on Israel’s history as recorded in the book of Exodus, it’s almost Christmas.

On the one hand, it seems a strange time to be thinking about the slaves of Egypt of so long ago, their cry to God for help, His response in the form of a liberator named Moses.

On the other hand, perhaps it is the perfect time because this is the time Christians all around the world sing “O Come, O Come Immanuel – and rescue captive Israel.”

This is the time when we talk about “God with us”.

This is the time when we search the heavens for one bright star again – just as travelers from faraway places searched for it.

This is the time when we think about how broken and dark and sinful and in need our own world still is – just as it was when the slaves lived bitter lives of hardship under harsh taskmasters.

It is an old story – yet it remains ever new.

We need release.  We need hope.  We need grace.  We need freedom.  We need exodus to the Promised Land.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

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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