The Story

The words are familiar and important.

  • Beginning
  • Faith
  • Covenant
  • Journey
  • Belief
  • Hope
  • Blessing

Since we began our walk through the book of Genesis these and other such words keep popping up – on the page and in our thoughts and imagination.  So do certain characters.

  • Adam
  • Even
  • Cain
  • Abel
  • Noah
  • Abraham
  • Sarah
  • Hagar
  • Ishmael
  • Isaac
  • Rebecca
  • Esau
  • Jacob

What is the common thread that ties all these characters and their stories together?

A connection to God.

That is also what ties their story to all people of faith.

Tomorrow in church we will reflect on this and many will also reflect on how it impacts another story – that of our story as citizens of a nation, citizens of the larger world, and members of a kingdom – God’s kingdom.

The issues before us – as citizens and as kingdom dwellers are complicated and complex.  They are troubling.

Scripture puts it well: We must somehow be “in the world, but not of the world.”

Political parties, debates, worries over taxes, over health care, over poverty and riches, over national and international security, economics, fairness, justice, mercy – increasingly this is the stuff of the morning and evening news cast, the Internet posts, the Twitter feed, the Facebook videos, and all the rest.  It is also what keeps many people up at night, restless, searching for answers.

But – for me – these issues are not disconnected from the Story I have mentioned above.

In fact, they are intimately related, because I must make decisions about such matters as a person of faith.

I don’t pretend to have perfect answers to these complicated issues.

I try not to be too political from the pulpit – something some applaud, and others, I suspect, criticize.

I do affirm that my faith provides answers – that my God provides answers – whenever I follow the scriptural admonition to “Lean not on thy own understanding, but in all thy ways acknowledge God, and He will direct thy paths.”

That’s an important part of my story as it continues to be written  and it helps me sleep a lot better at night.

How about you?

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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