Storm Clouds Gathering

The next part of the story is never easy to tell.

There are storm clouds gathering.  Jesus has been on the road – healing, teaching, listening, preaching – moving.

And he has been saying some very disturbing things to his closest, handpicked disciples.

Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; And the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him…

“No, Lord!” Peter cries out.  “No, never!” shout the others.  He just looks at them with love, smiles compassionately, but the look in his eyes is deadly serious.

We want to add our voices to the cry as well.  Isn’t there another way?  ANY other way?

It is the way of the cross and it is the way we must walk, with Jesus, during the season of Lent.

Lent isn’t primarily about giving up chocolate, or our favorite TV programs, or other favorite idols.  It isn’t just about becoming more spiritually disciplined – as if we are starting a new program at our local gym.  It isn’t about us at all.

All those things might be an appropriate way to show our commitment, our dedication, our sense of calling and our desire for deeper discipleship.

Ultimately, it’s about Jesus and his walk.  The storm clouds gathering over our heads…over His head…are about the battle he fought, and won, over condemnation, over death, over defeat, over rebellion at the deepest spiritual levels.

It’s about walking boldly to the cross – and suffering there – saving, healing, expressing His love for all.

And…it is about the last sentence he uttered – right after talking about being mocked, and scourged, and spit upon, and hated unto death.

…and on the third day he shall rise again.

It’s about victory over death and life everlasting.

There are storm clouds gathering.  It won’t be easy.

But we know – we KNOW – how the story ends.  In victory.

Thanks be to God.


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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