Sermon on James 5 - The church and the Christ
Is anyone among you suffering? Is anyone among you cheerful? Is anyone among you sick? Go to the Lord. In suffering there is a call to pray. In joy there is a call for songs of praise. In illness, or weakness, there is a call for the church. The church, as a family, to come into that weakness, that illness, and visit, pray, anoint, and call on the Lord. Not as some magic formula where if we do this just right then healing will come. Long life and good times. That’s not what we have here. What we have is the description of the church.
Sermon on James 4
The danger I have here with you, and James, and desires, and wisdom, is that I do not want to use this time to scream against capitalism or economics. I don’t want to stand up here and call down fire upon us because of our stuff. Talking about our desires breeding war and envy, or profit or prosperity being of the devil. In part because I like my job, but also because these texts are always taken to such extremes as to destroy the very context in which they were written. To have them become weapons and clubs of the neo-fundamentalist movement where all joy and happiness in the gifts of God are made evil, and despair becomes the goal. Despair at our livelihood. At all we have. A never ending spiral where we are made to hate so much of what is to give us delight.
Sermon on James 3:1-12
When I was a kid, controlling the tongue meant no swearing. No potty words. No four-letter filth words. Or as Kirk said to Spock in The Voyage Home – colorful metaphors. I thought about it, but I don’t think I was threatened with soap, but I can’t remember. It was more fun with this rule because we would spend our time coming up with our own equivalents, so – dagnabit, Mildred, Myrtle, Buttmunch. Fun words.
The best, and my favorite, is “Dude!” Dude is one of those neutral words. It can be used as a term of endearment. Swearing. Anger. Joy. Surprise. So “Dude, you scratched my car.” “Dude don’t take the last onion ring.” “Dude, that’s awesome.” Or the best – “Duuuuuuuuuuuuuude!” Like a thousand u’s.
Sermon for James 2
What group do you belong to? How does that define you? Who you are? Does it undermine you? Does it pigeon-hole you into some sort of identity that causes you to pretend to be something you are not? Or maybe you clutch it like the only thing that matters – the guy from high school who was the star quarterback 40 years ago. Has to wear the letterman’s jacket to the high school reunion just to remind everyone.
On the other side, let’s say you are retired. A man with a college education. People may say you are the luckiest, most blessed person in the world. Privileged. Should have everything. Nevermind you have marital problems, or financial woes, or children who are estranged from you, addicted to drugs or in prison. People look at you and decide about you because you are “rich,” never knowing you cry yourself to sleep at night.
Sermon on James 1
This last week, your parish council and I made our way to Grace Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes to talk about vitality. About practicing resurrection. Questions were asked of us in areas of what it is we are doing in our parish, what we hope to see happen. But also, what is there of what we can do. We talked about the notion of inviting and investing in people as a form of discipleship and evangelism. You know, the idea of actually talking about our faith with others.
A question was asked though of – what if you are not that kind of person? What if you are not one who’s default is to share about church or the Gospel with others? Almost a summation of life for many of us. Is the Gospel worth sharing for you? Well, today is good news for you in that area.