Come Into the Light

Matthew 4:12-17

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”[f]
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Let me begin by stating the obvious.  It’s a new year.  New challenges lie ahead, but so do new opportunities.  Our nation is in turmoil, with so many of us isolated and poised in an adversarial position to others.  We have strong opinions, and strong convictions, borne of our beliefs – and there is nothing wrong with that – in and of itself.  But too many have crossed the line, as I said in a recent sermon, moving from a position of conviction to one of contempt for those with whom we disagree.

That can leave us in a very dark place.

So, let me suggest that we all take a step into the light.  Let us follow Christ’s example.  Let us stand for the right, and speak truth in love – but always – in love.

It isn’t about win/lose.  It’s about sharing the gospel of God’s love in word and action alike.

I don’t pretend that this is an easy thing to do but I believe we can do it – and that we must.

It’s a new year.  Let’s begin it in prayer, in humility, in willingness to listen before we speak.  Let’s begin it by shining the light of God’s love, in Christ’s name, where – at least for now – there seems only to be darkness.

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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