James 5:7-19

Tonight we are discussing James 5.  James ends his letter with the themes of wait, pray, and rescue.  James begins his conclusion with the word “therefore” or “so then” indicating that we have reached the end of his discourse and in this final teaching he addresses the response of the community to their present suffering and persecution.

First, in vv 7-11, James encourages us to be patient in times of trial – like Job – and await the coming of Christ. James calls us to 1) have patience in the face of suffering and to abstain from retaliation and 2) to persevere and not succumb to oppression.  In short, we are to follow the example of Jesus on the way to the cross. 

Second, James reminds us that at all times we should be in constant communication with the One in charge. The example James uses is Elijah’s prayer during a great famine. 1 Kings 17-18. The unspoken story in this example is the Widow of Zarephath. 1 Kings 17:8-24. Within this vignette, Elijah’s prayer provides the widow with a perpetual source of food and raises her son from the dead. Jesus also uses this story to illustrate that a prophet is never acceptable in his own town. Luke 4:26. This is the present situation for the Jewish Christians in James’ congregation that had been expelled from their synagogues and barred from the Temple.

Finally, James implores us that we must work to bring back any fellow member who has wandered. Our role is not to judge or excoriate the wayward but to work towards their restoration because mercy triumphs over judgment. (2:13). We see this teaching throughout Jesus’ teachings and particularly in the parables of Luke 15.  And, as we have continued to discuss over the last couple of weeks, it is only through wisdom and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we may discern how to minister to and bring back others with neither condemnation nor condonation.

NEXT WEEK, we will read the letter from Jesus’s other brother, Jude. The entire book is only one chapter and twenty-four verses.  Like James, Jude is more of a sermon in letter form written as an exhortation to a community of believers.  Jude is odd in that it quotes as authoritative the Jewish apocalyptic books of the Assumption of Moses and the Book of Enoch (which only the Ethiopian Church considers canonical). The overall purpose of Jude is to appeal to the faith once delivered against those who “pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness.” I have attached Luke Timothy Johnson’s brief commentary from The Writings of the New Testament. I have also attached David Bentley Hart’s translation of Jude found in his translation of the New Testament. Hart’s footnotes exceed the length of the book and provide an in-depth understanding of the imagery and language used by Jude.

SCHEDULE: Thursday night at Trinity is an Organ Recital at 6:00 and an All Saints Evensong at 6:30.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is stuffed acorn squash and peppers with polenta. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.

Hate stirs up conflict, but love covers all offenses.

Proverbs 10:12

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