O God our strength, without you we are weak and wayward creatures. Protect us from all dangers that attack us from the outside, and cleanse us from all evil that arises from within ourselves, that we may be preserved through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
(The prayer for August 29th, the 14th Sunday after Pentecost)
This week’s small group Bible discussion went a bit longer than usual. We focused in on James 1:17-27 & it prompted lots of good thought & discussion. I chuckled when I learned how Martin Luther did NOT appreciate the book of James … “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22). I get it! Luther had turf he had to defend. Today we call it tribalism, being in a bubble or just being a fan (short for “fanatic”).
I grew up in an era where “self-discipline” was considered a true virtue. I thought that if you allowed yourself to express every emotion, it was self-indulgent and somehow wrong. I was the oldest and I would regard my younger very exuberant sister & brother with a bit of contempt & superiority as they always talked too loud, laughed too much, cried too easily and shared too much. I find it interesting that I took pride in what I DIDN’T do!
So here we are in an era of political talking heads competing for “clicks,” “influencers” & leaders who will say & do almost anything for financial gain & it feels like everyone is expressing an opinion on everything. There are evangelical preachers telling folks who they need to vote for & who they’re allowed to love and talk show commentators giving medical advice. Really important information is shared alongside the trivial & the deluge is enough to make your head explode. So, as we read James, I felt like he was speaking to me. “let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, For your anger does not produce God’s righteousness” (James 1:19).
The “quick to listen” part is still a particularly challenging morsel. For me, I think it has to do with constructive critique, advice from people who care for & love me, people I know and respect. It’s Pastor Emily’s sometimes challenging sermons & my fellow weekly Bible study partners’ thoughts on scripture. The voices I refer to in the previous paragraph are a distraction to these better, more important voices. And, I’m lucky. I know that I have people around me who will tell me the truth even if it’s painful.
I’m still chewing on this passage but for now, the message I’m getting is to stop screaming at the TV and just get busy doing something productive. To that end, please mark “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday, September 12th on your calendars. We have a gleaning project scheduled for the 11th and highway cleanup and an advocacy project on the 12th. Watch for more details. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)
May the Peace of the Lord be with you!
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.