A postcard from the 14th Sunday after Pentecost 08/29/21
The Epistle of James was a relative latecomer to the biblical canon.
It was largely through the endorsement of Origen that this epistle made it into the Bible. It has caused some controversy in the church because of its focus on works, but its text was used by early church writers.
Some scholars suggest that we should view James as wisdom writing, citing the 59 imperatives offering practical wisdom on right behavior. The writer of James draws on the world of the Torah and views the law positively as moral commandments, expressed most completely by the law of love of neighbor from Leviticus 19:18. He uses the prophetic voice in understanding the human life as covenantal and relational, and represents the wisdom tradition by understanding that humans have to choose between “wisdom from above” or “wisdom from below.”
The opening chapter of the epistle sets the stage for what is to follow. The Christian’s reality is that the world is not built on scarcity and competition but instead is built on God’s abundant and unending gift. So the question for the reader is, do we know and seek to live by this reality? Do we really believe that the word of God has the power to save? [James 1:17-27]
The Epistle of James is one of my favorite books of the Bible because it addresses the practical application of our faith. Perhaps it is a gift to us from the Revised Common Lectionary in this season of division and uncertainty we will get 5 weeks to study one of the earliest texts on Christian ethics.
A sermon from the Church of the Holy Spirit in Alabaster:
Next week, we continue our exploration of the Epistle of James, which challenges the belief that faith is something that should be kept private and challenges a culture that sees very little value in religion at all.
- September 5 – St. Barnabas, Roanoke / “Body and Soul” James 2:1-17
- September 12 – Messiah, Heflin / “Taming the Tongue” James 3:1-12
- September 19 – Messiah Heflin / “The Good Life” James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
- September 25 – Off the Road / “Powerful Prayer” James 5:13-20