Scripture: James 2:1–13
Key verse: (12) So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.
Reflection: It was just before the beginning of the service and the typical buzz filled the room. Folks greeted each other and caught up on what had happened in the last week or two. The candles were lit and the clergy and musicians took their places. The pre-service music played beautifully as people found their seats. Then, there was a commotion at one of the side doors. Many people looked up and caught their first glance of the source of the disturbance.
A disheveled man in torn, mis-matched clothes stepped through the entrance, stopped and looked around. His hair was long and his beard was untrimmed. Clearly he was from a different place than the worshippers. He had on several layers of clothes as if his body was his backpack. Folks entering behind him gave him a wide berth as they came in the Sanctuary to find their seats. It looked as if the man was stuck in the entrance, and perhaps he was, but eventually he moved toward a seat at the front of the church.
People looked uneasily at each other. Mothers scooted their children closer to them. An usher came down the aisle and spoke to the man, who shook his head. The man remained seated. The usher left. The service started. As the opening melody of the first hymn began, the man stood up and walked out the door. A sigh of relief passed through the congregation. The people began to sing.
According to James: (vs. 2-10)
For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
Prayer: Our partiality condemns us, O God. Our love and concern is not as boundless as yours. We want to love our neighbors but instinctively shrink back. Transform what’s inside of us to be as nice as what is outside of us. We pray in the name of Jesus, friend and champion of the outcast. Amen.
Author: Von Clemans
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].