Showing posts from August, 2014

James: Letter to the Faithful - Week 4 "Pride Goeth Before..."

Let's say you are driving down the road in your car, listening to Steely Dan and singing passionately about how "Ricky" better not "lose that number," when suddenly you hit a pothole and lose control of your ability to steer.  As a result of this, you discover that Jesus has not taken the wheel, and that it is now spinning wildly in your hands as you careen headlong toward a minivan full of nuns.   Here's a question for you...  Is the ensuing accident your fault?  Removing the obvious mortal sin of listening to and enjoying Steely Dan---most people would tend to say, "Absolutely not!  It was the pothole's fault."  And by extension, then we would go on to blame the municipality that allowed said pothole to exist.   And we would be wrong.  The accident would still be your fault.  Your insurance would increase, you would get the ticket, you would be to blame.  In most states, it is your duty to report potholes when you see them

James: Letter the The Faithful Week Three - The Taming of the Tongue

I have a list of words that I would like to see eradicated from our cultural lexicon.  I don't ask for much--perhaps issuing hefty fines to people who use them until they learn not to would be a good place to start. Honestly, if everyone listened to me on issues like this the world would be a better place. So... to the words: "Bromance" - This is a word that is used to describe the affection that exists between two dudes who want to ensure that no one mistakes their relationship as something other than manly friendship---and so they use a word that combines "brother" and "romance," which honestly just makes the whole thing worse. "Foodie" - This word is used to describe someone who really, really, really likes food.  People will use it in a pretentious sort of way, "Oh, I really don't care to eat at Chipotle--I'm kind of a foodie, you know."  Oh, you like food?  So does everyone.  Find another word. "Irrega

James: A Letter to the Faithful Week Two - "Row, Row Row Your Boat."

Imagine that you are on a sinking ship. If you need to imagine the motion picture Titanic, go for it.  You are Jack--or Rose--and the  song is playing in the background. "Near... far... wherever you are...." Okay, I take it that you are with me at this point.  So in your imaginary sinking ship you are getting on board a lifeboat full of people, who have all been given oars to row.   All at once the people on one side of the lifeboat begin shouting that they are the ones who need to row--and that everyone else needs to pull their oars out of the water.  "This will only work if we are the ones who are rowing!!" they exclaim. The people on the other side begin shouting back, "No!  We are the ones who need to be rowing!!  Everyone on that side needs to pull their oars out of the water and let us row!!" At this point you are probably watching Jack and Rose float away on their little scrap of wood and you're thinking, "I wonder if they h

James: A Letter to the Faithful - Week One "Counting it all Joy"

This week we are going to be launching a brand new sermon series, a study on the New Testament book of James .  James has always been a challenging book. and wasn't actually included in the canon of the New Testament until at least the second century--even though many early Christian communities were reading and studying it. The great reformer Martin Luther couldn't stand James, and argued for it being excluded from the New Testament because of what he described as too much of an emphasis on works and not enough on grace. But when you read through the book of James--at least when you read through it with a Jesus tinged lens--you get a different picture of this complicated and almost in-your-face letter that was written nearly two thousand years ago to Christians who were facing hardship and persecution. Before we go any further, though, we need to answer the most obvious question that you might be ready to pose at this point: Who was James? James was called many