The Good Life

A postcard from the 17th Sunday after Pentecost 09/19/21

So who is James?

As we are approaching the end of the series of reading from the Book of James, you might be wondering who this James fellow is. The “James” found in the opening address the book is traditionally been identified as James the brother of Jesus, who became the leader of the church in Jerusalem and who was marytred before the outbreak of the Jewish wat of 66-70 CE. Some scholars question this attribution because of the author’s proficiency with the Greek, and suggest that it was a later follower that used James’ name.

James the brother of Jesus was also known as “James the Just.” James is identified by Paul as being one of the pillars in the Jerusalem church (Gal. 2:9). This James was also a central figure in the Council of Jerusalem that considered Paul’s challenge to the need for Gentiles to practice circumscision. James is often associated with the Jewish Christian church, in contrast to Paul’s mission to the Gentiles.

Given James’ context within the church in Jerusalem, it seems to make sense that he draws upon Jewish wisdom literature as he explores what it means to live as a Christian. James challenges the Christian to closely examine what it means to live a good life. Rejecting the ambitions and desires of the world, James redefines the good life as being marked by peace, gentleness, mercy, and service. [James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a]

In The Episcopal Church we remember James the brother of Jesus on our calendar of saints on October 23.

A sermon from the the Church of the Messiah in Heflin:

“So, for James, we again have a choice between God and the world. We can allow ourselves to be turned around and twisted by the world, to bearing wrong fruit and offering a curse instead of a blessing. Or we, who are saved in Christ, can offer up our power of words and language so that they can be blessings. So that our words can bring life and healing, not death and division.”

Audio only available here

Coming next

Next week, we finish up 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 25 – Off the Road / “Powerful Prayer” James 5:13-20

Published by akhudlow

I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama. I am a church nerd, printmaker, storyteller, and blogger.

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