Scripture: James 2:1-13
Key verse: (2) Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.
Reflection: Close to my seminary in Toronto was an Anglican (Episcopalian) church that a few of us would visit from time to time. It was a very high, liturgically speaking, congregation called St. Thomas but there was so much incense used we called it by its other name: Smoky Tom’s.
During one Lenten season I committed to attend Eucharist every day at noon and was proud of myself for keeping to the discipline and enjoyed how different the liturgy was from my Protestant experience. All was going well really until the day a very smelly, disheveled and visibly disturbed homeless man showed up and sat two pews in front of me. Living and working downtown in Canada’s largest city certainly put me in contact with this population and during the winter season I was the 12 a.m. –6 a.m. host for a Room in the Inn type program. I would have said I had a heart for these men and women. But when this man sat in front of me and I quickly realized that we would walk up for Eucharist together and I would have to drink from the chalice after he did — I was utterly bothered and agitated for the entire service.
The preacher in the book of James is very direct in pointing out that how we treat the poor matters. He doesn’t use metaphors, doesn’t soften the truth with alternative facts, makes no attempts at comforting casuistry. He takes the teachings of Jesus at face value and says we ought to be loving to one another, especially those who are poor.
My homeless friend left the service before Eucharist but I remain in that pew to this day, wondering if I am truly able to live in solidarity and communion with all of God’s children.
Prayer: Lord, help us today to rest from our labours but not our convictions. Help us to be still today but not complacent in hearing your call and walking in your path. Hear us and help us Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.
Author: Derek Macleod
[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].