the letter of James
you could interview anyone in the New Testament besides Jesus, who would you pick? Mary, John the Baptist or Peter would certainly be strong candidates. But what about James, the brother of Jesus?
Imagine the stories he could tell about Jesus as a lad or teen! What was it like working with him in their father's carpentry business? Why was Jesus' family slow to accept him as the Messiah.
Apparently they had reservations about his emotional health [Mk 3.21] and his brothers flat out refused to believe in him [Jn 7.5]. In the great 'resurrection' chapter, St Paul tells us that James was given a special audience with the risen Jesus [1Co 15.7]. He's someone who could give us the inside scoop on Jesus the Christ!
Yet when James wrote the letter that eventually made its way into the New Testament, it didn't address any of these topics. Instead, he gave the Church a brief collection of essential teachings – 'what wholehearted devotion to Jesus looks like'.
The epistle's tone is clearly Jewish. In it you can hear echoes of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount [Mt 5-7] as well as the Old Testament book of Proverbs [Pr 1-9].
But perhaps what strikes the modern reader more than anything is its in-your-face quality. James gets personal with his readers about playing favorites, talking a good talk without the accompanying walk, put-downs, bragging about your next great business deal and more. He calls his readers to radical faith – rejoicing in testing, waiting patiently for the Lord's return and taking our concerns to God in prayer.
If anyone would know what following Jesus looks like, you'd think a brother of Jesus would. And that's exactly what James offers us in his letter – a crash course in how Jesus wants to get into our business!
For a helpful animated introduction to the book of James, click onto this Bible Project link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn-hLHWwRYY
However, over the next year, interspersed once a month-or-so with our regular sermon series, we will highlight areas of belief to which we aspire and which govern our personal and community actions and character. Although Balmoral is a unique fellowship, these beliefs are not uniquely ours, but are shared with others of like mind. Conversely, they also differentiate us from other faiths, other Christian traditions, and those in our world who profess no faith. Each belief is not only an idea or concept, but a practice that comes out in how we think, interact, and live. This coming week, Fred Thomson will continue this "Living Our Belief" series...
Join us on April 2nd, as Fred Thomson teaches on "Basic Beliefs: The Holy Spirit".
Please feel welcome to join us on Sunday at 10:30AM as we worship together with singing (a mix of contemporary & traditional), prayer, expository teaching from the scriptures, and communion, all followed by fellowship over “coffee & sweets”. In addition, on the last Sunday of the month, we also meet from 9-10AM for a service of communion, sharing and hymns. Everyone is welcome to join us as we worship God together!