Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I see your hinny, so bright and shinny: Becoming a people of the light, James 1:17-27

The title of this entry is a little saying my mother-in-law uses around the boys. she doesn't say it as much anymore simply because their not naked as often as they use to be when they were infants and toddlers. She use to say it back when they were little and were getting out of the tub or getting a diaper  change. We so often refer to God as a parent I thought that perhaps this "saying" might be approperiate. When God sees us, in all our vulnerability and simplicity what does he say? I would hope that in my life he would say something like this saying of my mother-in-law. I would hope he would see a light, so bright and shinny.

This book of James is notorious for being a book that see's Christian faith and life as a work. James is clear that all the stuff we say about God, all the stuff we say we believe means nothing without actions backing up our words. 15th century Augustinian Monk and church reformer, Martin Luther, was so concerned with the "works righteousness" theme of James that he referred to it as "a straw epistle" and almost refused to translate and include it in the German language bible he is so famous for.

This passage is one of the most well known passages from the book of James along with "the tongue is a flame"and "Faith without works is dead". Just like the other two passages, this one reminds us that faith is more than belief. This is the only passage in the New Testament where God is called "father of lights". This is referring to creation when the father placed the heavenly lights in the sky. This also refers to believers since we are called to be lights in a very dark and scary world.

Our world is as dark as it's ever been and I'm not speaking globally as much as I am speaking locally and nationally. We live in a world were economies are crashing, jobs are drying up, temperatures are rising and crops are dying. More and more people struggle from paycheck to paycheck, more and more people are receiving government aid in the form of HUD, TANF and FOOD STAMPS. More and more people line up at unemployment and job seeking agencies everyday.

This weekend is Labor Day. It's the unofficial end of summer and start of "back to business". It was a holiday to celebrate our right and ability to work and therefore our ability to provide a safe and comfortable life for ourselves and our families. Now more often than not its another holiday where most Americans can't afford to do anything other than what they do everyday...LABOR. Much of the strife and suffering that has arisen in our country over economic issues is tied to greed and selfishness and is tied to politicians who's goal it is to support and care for the wealthy and corporations instead of the needs of the common.

I could go on for hours complaining about the insurmountable greed and sensationalism of our nation, but I won't. Instead I'll leave it to scripture to point out that in life's most darkest hours the people of God are called to be lights, not to simply bask in the light, but to be the light. The Apostles James reminds us what it means to be a light and the shine in the darkness when he says, "This is true faith, to care for the vulnerable in their time of distress." (James 1:27). Shine christian, shine! Let the love, compassion and hope of God radiate from you in all the things you do, and remember true Christians do, not just hear the word of God.

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