Scripture selection: Luke 24:50-53

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

So we come to the end of the Gospel of Luke.

The risen Christ, having given final instructions to his disciples, with a final blessing, is miraculously and dramatically taken up into heaven.  They are left to their joyful worship and to the carrying on of the ministry which he entrusted to them.

In a way, it seems the end of the story.

But in fact it was just the beginning.

Christ’s followers today have the same opportunity and calling: to worship with great joy and carry on the ministry until one day the kingdom of God comes in all its fullness and glory.

As I write these words we are in the midst of the Lenten season – a time of great spiritual preparation for the wonderful celebration of the Easter season.

It’s a good time – perhaps the best time – to reflect on what God has called us to do, through the ministry of Christ, and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

It is time to look heavenward once again, in awe.

Then we have a job to do – in Christ’s name.  We are to , worship, praise, teach, heal, confront and defeat evil, love as we have been loved, baptize and bring others into the kingdom life – the abundant life – that God graciously offers through Christ.

To God be the glory.

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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