+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening: (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reading from the Book of James 2:1-13 (NLT)
A Warning against Prejudice
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?
Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.
For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.
So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
Faith and Favoritism
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ
if you favor some people over others?
– James 2:1 –
In today’s reading, James comes right to the point: Showing personal favoritism is inconsistent for Christians who worship the glorious Lord Jesus Christ. The example offered is preferential seating of the rich and powerful at Christian gatherings.
In regard to the poor:
+ God has chosen the believing poor to be rich in faith.
+ The believing poor will inherit the Kingdom of God.
In regard to the rich:
+ The unbelieving rich oppress the poor.
+ The unbelieving rich slander Jesus Christ.
The problem of showing favoritism in Christian assemblies is that it treats people exactly opposite to the way God treats them.
Questions for consideration:
- Can you think of examples where the rich and powerful have been given preferential treatment at Christian gatherings? Please explain.
- Can you think of examples of people who expect preferential treatment at Christian assemblies? Please explain.
- Does focusing a church’s ministry on one segment of the population, e.g. youth, or community leaders, amount to showing them preferential treatment? Please explain.
- Can you think of people in your Christian assembly who are marginalized, e.g. poor, sick, or elderly? How can you show them courtesy and compassion? Please explain.
Prayer for the Poor and Powerless:
Heavenly Father: We pray especially today for the poor and powerless whom you hold close to your heart. Open our hearts to receive them as you do – rich in faith, though poor in worldly status. Fill us with compassion for the very young, the old, the disabled, the stranger – that we might honor them with our friendship and express our concern for them with acts of kindness and love. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“All the Poor and Powerless” – All Sons & Daughters
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen