Heads Up

This morning, like congregations all over the globe, our little church began to celebrate the season of Advent.  It is a time of watching and waiting, of great anticipation, of holy listening.

One of the scripture passages I read, from the Gospel of Luke, speaks of lifting our heads up and watching the “signs and wonders” as all creation prepares for the coming of the Lord.  When will He come?  We cannot know exactly, nor do we need to know.  We just have to be daily at work, anticipating His return.

A story I shared in my sermon is worth repeating.

It is about Saint Francis.  One day he was busily hoeing in his garden when someone asked what he would do if he found out that at sunset that very day he would die.  He thought for a moment and quietly replied, “I would finish hoeing my garden.”

The lesson?  That we are to simply and calmly carry on, cultivating our gardens, metaphorically speaking, preparing the way for the Lord.  Simple, honest, fruitful work.

In times that are marked by hectic activity – much of which is ultimately not very fruitful – it’s a good reminder.  Keep at it, prepare the way, love as we have been loved, all the time being mindful that one day the Lord will return and bring all to completion.

It’s Advent – “Heads up!” – Our redemption draws near.

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 for “expectant hope.” 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, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. 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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