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2 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face various trials, consider it all joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance complete its work, so that you may be complete and whole, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6 But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7,8 For the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. James 1:2-8

I love the book of James. It is challenging, it speaks of struggle, and it has a strong sense of deeds being a measure rather than just words. Luke Timothy Johnson says, "when read on its on terms, James is a powerful witness to both the diversity in early Christianity and the moral imperative of Christian identity of every age."


It’s also rather ironic that we are reading James this Sunday, Reformation Sunday. Because this Sunday reminds us of Martin Luther tacking the 95 theses onto the door of the Wittenberg Church a little over 500 years go. Martin Luther did not believe that James belonged in the canon, it didn’t belong in the Bible. For Luther, James especially chapter 2 where it says, "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." contradicted Paul’s teachings on righteousness. For a long time most scholars followed Luther but more recently scholars believe that James and Paul do not contradict one another, because they are not addressing the same point.


James, in a nutshell is, actions speak louder than words.


Our little piece of the first chapter of James this evening, talks about joy every time we are tested, every hardship. Luke Timothy Johnson again says, "The is faith and how it reaches perfection. Despite a variety of testings presented by the a world actively hostile to God, it reaches its perfection through deeds of faith like those of Abraham and Rahab, through endurance of faith like Job’s and through the prayer of faith like Elijah’s. This opening exhortation contains in compressed form each of these expressions: faith’s perfect work, endurance, and prayer."


I also want to make this clear James is not speaking of the virtue of an individual but the community’s faith. The author asserts that human existence is not located in a closed system of competition but in an open system ordered by and to a God who gives gifts to humanity. This book this passage is challenging.


We embrace these challenges not out of some kind of self flagellation but because we know that no one gets out of this life without struggle. This idea, this book, this message challenges, as Johnson says, "a long for a faith that is secure from trial and test." This passage tells us that our faith only matures by what it endures.


I want us to take a few moments and watch a video from Anderson Cooper 360 from a few years ago. He is interviewing Stephen Colbert and they are talking about some things that they have endured.


I know that some of you have endured a lot, many too much for any one person, but we are called to be the body of Christ, sharing in our suffering, carrying one another’s burdens, holding one another. So I want us to practice. You are gathered around tables, we are in the midst of the holy meal. I want to you to turn to your table mates, introduce yourselves, and I want you to take a couple of minutes to share whats on your heart right now, today. It could be a joy, it could be a question, it could be anything. Only share what you feel comfortable sharing and you are under no obligation to tell everyone your story.


I’ll give you a few minutes then I will bring us back with prayer.



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