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Monday, June 30, 2014

Scripture Reading: James 1
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved.

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act —they will be blessed in their doing.

If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (NRSV)

Reflection
When I’m painting, I feel as if I am completely absorbed into the canvas. Time has no relevance as I brush and sculpt acrylic paint on the canvas. The colors merge into each other in surprising, even beautiful patterns, and I have very little control over their final outcome. I often feel as if the painting is emerging from somewhere beyond my own imagination and that I am only a conduit between the paint and the end result. The act of painting makes me feel so creative and alive, “a doer and not only a hearer.”

That is what James said we should all strive to become. He said, “You must be a doer of the word and not only a hearer.” In other words, get involved and don’t just sit on the sidelines. We should not be passive or half-hearted about the projects we commit to, but throw ourselves completely and passionately into everything we do. When we are wholly committed to something, it is so easy to lose ourselves into that goal that is larger than ourselves. In those moments of passion we become the canvas and God is the painter working on our souls. God, who loves every one of us, can create surprising results that are even more wonderful than anything we can imagine.

Prayer
God, help me to be fully alive so that in all I do or say I may come closer to your vision of who I am called to be. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music


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