SERMON – June 30, 2019


James 1: 17-27

The best expression of faith is SEEN RATHER THAN SPOKEN St. Francis said: “Preach the good news; and if necessary, use words.”

Text:  James 1:26   Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. 27 Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.  

From Psalm 15:  What is it that God delights seeing in us? “That we walk straight, act right, and tell the truth. God says, “Keep your word even when it costs you; make an honest living, never take or make a bribe.  There is no regret in people who live like this.”

Christianity is a faith that has a bias. That bias is in favor of the poor.  Neglecting the poor was done by those who looked good in public and in private totally ignored the poor.   The Pharisees were big on RULES while allowing CRUELTY AND NEGLECT OF THE POOR to exist in front of them. Jesus called them on it. Jesus bent the rules to accommodate the poor.  So did Queen Victoria on one occasion.  There was a diplomatic reception in London. The guest of honor was an African chieftain of no wealth and no understanding for the English traditions. Finger bowls were on the table for use of washing one’s fingers. The African Chieftain picked his up and drank the whole thing. Five hundred guests were horrified. The chieftain put his bowl down. Queen Victoria silently took her finger bowl in her two hands, lifted it, and drank its contents! And so did 500 guests. Victoria changed the rules of hospitality to include a man from a great distance to be included in their circle of hospitality and joyous celebration. 

Jesus broke rules in his culture: he healed on the Sabbath; he worked on the Sabbath; he ate with sinners and unclean people; Jesus was an “against the rules” guy. Why? BEHIND THESE RULES PEOPLE NEGLECTED THE POOR which he has a bias for.  Jesus broke many rules IN ORDER TO SERVE THE NEEDS OF THE LAST, LEAST AND LOST BEFORE HIM. 

Mother Theresa said: “there are no big deals anymore; just small things to be done with great love.” Also she said, “Don’t think you will change the world with your small acts of kindness, and IT IS SO IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO THEM.”

Helen Keller: “I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

James reminds us that true religion includes being slow to speak and quick to listen and slow to anger. Being doers of the word and not merely hearers. All Godly work must begin with holy silence like the Native Americans. “Silence was meaningful with the (Native people) like the Lakota. Their granting a space of silence before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regardful of the rule that “thought comes before speech.” And in the midst of sorrow, sickness, death, or misfortune of any kind, and in the presence of the notable and great, silence was the mark of respect. More powerful than words was silence with the Lakota.”

LET US BEGIN WITH SILENCE THEN ACT ON THE THINGS FROM OUR TEXT:  TO FEED ALL GOD’S CHILDREN; HOUSE ALL IN DIGNITY; CARE FOR ALL IN THEIR ILLNESS. James says: those who serve and fight for these causes are truly religious in the best sense of the word.  Amen.