The Book of James

By Sandra Seaborn, Associate Priest
Listen Online

Posted on September 10, 2017

We find in Jesus beauty. We find in Jesus goodness. We find in Jesus truth. Do we find the same in our own lives? As a gathered community following Jesus we seek to be transformed by Jesus, into the likeness of Jesus. Yet, translating what we see in Jesus into action and word sometimes goes awry.

Having spent the summer looking at the life of Jesus as depicted in our stained-glass windows, we turn our attention this fall to the practicalities of living out our faith in Jesus, in ordinary and everyday circumstances.

The Book of James is believed to be written by the half-brother of Jesus about 20 years after Jesus’ death. James is the leader of the church in Jerusalem and is writing to the scattered churches encouraging them to live bold and counter-cultural lives. As the leader, he has walked through the early ethic and religious controversies experienced and documented in Acts. We don’t know how James came to faith or prominence in the church, but this letter gives us a glimpse of his mature faith.

It is writing that assumes genuine faith will transform lives and churches. James recognizes the long-game, calling for endurance in troubles and listening in conflict. Religion is worthless if it begets anger and favouritism, he claims; going so far as to say faith without works is dead.

Full of metaphors, James talks of bridling animals, setting forests alight with a tiny spark, rudders of ships setting course, grapevines bearing figs, and life as a morning fog. The ideas are straightforward and images provocative, all in hopes of strengthening the devotion of the hearers of the Word, that they might become “doers” too.

From September to November, we will follow James’ teaching on temptation, anger, prejudice, poverty, speech, wisdom, humility, patience, and prayer. So, pick up your Bibles and read along. Found in the New Testament section, just after Hebrews and before 1 Peter, this short book has practical wisdom a-plenty to support and challenge you. No matter the current place of your spirituality, we’ll be digging deep together, learning about faith-in-action, Jesus style.