Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-30-17


Scripture: James 3:13-15
Are any of you wise and understanding? Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. However, if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, then stop bragging and living in ways that deny the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. Instead, it is from the earth, natural and demonic.

Thought for the Day: It is interesting how James links humility and wisdom, and as I reflect on that idea more, it makes complete sense. Humility requires a perspective of life and the world around us that is non-egocentric. Some describe wisdom as having a little God-perspective. It is impossible – at least as I see it – to be humble and egotistical at the same time. When you are able to remove yourself and your own needs from a situation, you are much more likely to speak and act in a way that is wise and God-like.

Prayer: Continue to allow your Spirit, O Gentle and Caring God, to work in me that I might humble myself and exhibit your wisdom. Amen.



Tours of the Buildings

30 minutes before and after worship

Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-29-17


Scripture: James 3:1-2
My brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers, because we know that we teachers will be judged more strictly. We all make mistakes often, but those who don’t make mistakes with their words have reached full maturity. Like a bridled horse, they can control themselves entirely.

Thought for the Day: If no one else will say it, I will. I have clearly NOT reached full maturity. Words like fully and entirely make me nervous as they leave no room for the occasional hiccup or gaffe. James spends a number of verses dealing with this idea, including the idea of taming the tongue. He writes, “No one can tame the tongue, though. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” After speaking of those who don’t make mistakes, he seems to suggest that no one is perfect when it comes to controlling the tongue. Could it be that I’m confused? That’s a real possibility. Or could it be that James wants to set a high ideal and not give people easy excuses for why they are not stretching toward the ways of Jesus? There are two perspectives: I can try in spite of my shortcomings -or- I can excuse myself from trying because of my shortcomings. James doesn’t want the second option to even be a real option. Followers of Jesus don’t look for excuses.

Prayer: Continue to push me in my discipleship. O Lord, challenge my excuses and quick cop outs that have kept me from following you more closely. Amen.


Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-28-17


Scripture: James 2:28
As the lifeless body is dead, so faith without actions is dead.

Thought for the Day: A lot of folks wish to make faith a word exercise. You say some magical words in the correct order and you get to go to heaven. Many people read the New Testament and come away believing this very thing, yet it is exactly what frustrated both the Prophets of the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament. Faith is more than a few words rattle off to make us feel good. Faith is a way of life where Jesus is both the mentor and model. James doesn’t suggest perfection, but I’d guess he had seen a few too many so-called Christians who couldn’t give a description of the Jesus-life if their lives depended upon it.

Prayer: May the life of Jesus dwell deeply within me, O Lord. May it be engrained in my soul so as to appear in all my actions. Amen.


Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-27-17


Scripture: James 2:15-18
Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity. Someone might claim, “You have faith and I have action.” But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action.

Thought for the Day: I believe the Spirit of God is constantly drawing need to gifts, suffering to healers, the weak to the strong, fear to peace. God is a good matchmaker, yet too often the response is what James suggests, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!” Those who have resources too often turn away those who would be blessed by those resources. It might appear that those without resources are the ones who are impacted most negatively, but joy and true spiritual contentment come when we recognize God’s matchmaking and allow God to fully guide the match. By ignoring those in need, we might walk away with more in our pocket, but what we will discover in the end, is an emptiness of soul.

Prayer: Whatever my gifts might be, O Spirit of Grace, allow them to be guided to the place where they can have the most significant impact. Amen.


Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-26-17


Scripture: James 2:13
There will be no mercy in judgment for anyone who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy overrules judgment.

Thought for the Day: I love scripture, and I love how a phrase or verse has me asking, “Have I ever read that before?” In this passage which had me asking that very question, I love the language of mercy overruling judgment. Even more so, I love how it challenges me and our current culture. We seem utterly and completely (to be redundant) incapable of showing mercy to one another. When we do not like or understand why it is that someone does something, we turn to judgment instead of mercy. We impose our judgment upon the other without ever seeking to understand. We try to make the other look foolish, unChristian, immoral or unpatriotic. At the end of the day, we may still disagree, but if we show mercy, there is a good chance we can work to solve real problems through listening and helping others feel as if they have been heard. Mercy is good stuff!

Prayer: As you have been merciful and kind to us, O Lord of All, may our lives seek to show mercy to others even when we disagree or disapprove of them. May mercy be a doorway to understanding and open dialogue. Amen.


Meets back at the Church
This Wednesday

Gathering a little after 7am
Prayer Time Begins at 7:30am


Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-25-17


Scripture: James 2:5-8
My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make life difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who insult the good name spoken over you at your baptism? You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself.

Thought for the Day: Once again, we find ancient words with a contemporary relevance. In the days of James, the wealthy often saw their wealth as permission to do whatever pleased them…even it was at the expensive of others. Wealth had been considered a sign of divine blessing until Jesus appeared on the scene, and then old ways of thinking were turned upside down. Jesus provided insight into how the wealthy were often wealthy only because they abused the most vulnerable, and so James takes these arrogant ideas to task. It doesn’t matter whether you are a person of means or not, there is only one law and that is the law of love. If anything, the wealthy do not have special permission but special responsibility.

Prayer: Wherever I have a power or gifts, O Lord, may I use them with humility and for the sake of the most vulnerable around me. I ask this in the name of the one who gave up everything for the sake of all who were vulnerable. Amen.


Ecclesioloigcal Etchings: 09-24-17


Scripture: James 2:1-3
My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory. Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Here, sit at my feet.”

Thought for the Day: I used to have a professor who would say, “If God shows favoritism to everyone, then doesn’t that mean God shows favoritism to no one? It might appear that way if it were not God who was showing the favoritism.” The problem exists in the community where everyone is enjoying the extravagant favoritism of God, yet individuals within the community are showing favoritism that is exclusive and far from extravagant. If the church’s message is not fully contained in its relationships, then it might as well stop preaching until it can get itself back in step with God.

Prayer: May my eyes see others, not for what they have, O Lord, but who they are as your precious children. As no one is left out of your extravagant care and concern, make my life a tool by which you share that message with others. Amen.