Our first reading from the book of Acts is short and bitter- sweet, and it presents us with two different themes to reflect upon. The first one is concerned with a prophecy about a famine coming upon the land and the plan for famine relief by the disciples. And the second is that King Herod had James the brother of John killed with the sword, this is the focus for our reflection today.
Today we remember James. There are five people with the name of James mentioned in the new testament. This James is the brother of John and the son of Zebedee. This James was a fisherman like his father Zebedee. (Matt 27F56, Mark 15F40-41)
James was one of the first to respond to the call to follow Christ with the other fishermen, John, Peter and Andrew at the beginning of Jesus public ministry. (Matt 4F18-22, Mark 1F16-20).
This is an extraordinary testimony, the first calling of the first disciples. No questions asked, they gave up their living, their business, the pull of the call was so great that in an instant they knew that they had to stop what they were doing and follow Christ.
James accompanied Jesus three times that we know of that is recorded in the New Testament, when Jesus healed the daughter of Jairus, James was there. James witnessed the transfiguration with two others, and James was with Jesus while he wrestled in agony in Gethsemane. (Matt 26F37)
We know that all the disciples let Jesus down at various points, they all fell asleep in the Garden while he was in wrestling with the decision to go to the cross, they denied him when he was in court being accused and persecuted. They also did lots of other things that were extraordinary – both miracles and the other, both blessing and not. James and John were fiercely protective about Jesus and he called them “Sons of Thunder, ” which I quite like. (Mark 3F17)
What we can say about James is that he was a person of faith. Even when he got things wrong, he was an extraordinary faithful person accompanying Jesus. And the great thing about James example is that with his failures as well as his faithfulness, Jesus accepted James with all of who he was and is. Jesus still called him as a companion, invited him to witness and accompany him and still valued James, this is very hopeful for us.
No matter what we bring and who we are, we are accepted and called with all that we are. We do not need to hide those things that we think are unacceptable, because we have been made acceptable in Christ.
We are now viewed through the lens of Christ, not through the lens of our failures to live up to our imagined striving to be Holy or good.
So this is good news for us. James example is very good news for us. We can be hopeful that the journey of faith that we embark upon every day is another opportunity to be filled with healing and grace and mercy and peace. To know that we are forgiven when we acknowledge our frailties, and that although we walk with our weaknesses in clay vessels, Christ is able to be the spiritual resource to those around us in our communities through the fragile clay vessel that we offer Him.
Let us pray.
We pray that as we move through this pandemic that the Church as people and as institution, will be enabled to be the Spiritual resource needed in our communities. We pray that out of the depths of Spiritual poverty that have become the status quo during the last 18 months, Christ will come and enable us (the Church) once again to meet every spiritual need, in Jesusʼ name we pray. Amen.
Revd Deborah Hamilton-Grey (25.07.21)