On this Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost we will be discussing the guidance written in the Letter of James (Jesus' brother and leader of the Christian Church in Jerusalem). James' concern was people of the early community who appeared to say the words of the Gospel, but didn't appear to live the words in their lives. The idea of how "faith" and "good works" are connected, and the importance of each aspect of one's Christian life have long been important and, sometimes, controversial topics in the Christian church. We will explore how both faith and charitable works make the Christian life one that helps us follow Jesus.
Our Scripture passage is found in the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians. You may find the Scripture lesson by selecting the following link: (James 1:17-27).
For continuing study, reflect on these questions (found in the study guide below):
Performing acts of charity and mercy would seem to be a good idea for any Christian, however, the importance of "good works" has led church leaders to abuse the idea at certain times of Christian history. It was from this context that Martin Luther preached "good works" as having no bearing on one's salvation: faith and God's grace alone saved one's soul. Reflect on both the idea of "faith in God alone" and the importance of "performing works of charity"...how do you believe these two relate to Christian life?
After reading the "WHAT..." paragraph in the guide below, consider any experience you might have with disputes or disagreements within the church: how does James' advice to "be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger" help disagreeing parties make space for genuine listening and dialogue? Do you think James' advice actually "open the door to the righteousness of God for the community?"
After reading the "WHERE..." paragraph below, reflect and consider the question: "how is the equality between Christians both a blessing and a responsibility?" Also reflect and respond: "What is tempting about a faith that does not demand action?"
After reading the "SO WHAT..." paragraph, respond to the question: "What are examples of Christian communities today whose actions are helping to transform the world?" Reflect and respond to the author's statement that as Christians take responsibility for both are good and destructive actions, we learn to live in a way which can increase our critical discernment or thinking? Do you agree or disagree?
After reading the "NOW WHAT..." paragraph, consider the author's statement that "Generosity grounded in the character of God and embodied in the mission of Jesus can unfold as an influential model of the Divine." Essentially, generosity is the character of God...do you agree? How can the actions of Christians be consistent with the character of God and spread God's generosity and grace?