September 2: “Do It Justly”

What does your anger say about the sincerity of your Christian faith?

This Week’s Passage: James 1:17-27

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year B for Sunday, September 2nd in Ordinary Time

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

19 – Listen patiently like the Quakers or the Navajo. Count to ten before you speak.

20 – We must be careful how our anger is released.

22 – Our faith must affect who we are and how we act Monday – Saturday!

23 – Our familiarity with having looked into a mirror and forgotten what we look like, or looking at ones watch and having to look a second time when someone asks for the time, shows how we are also familiar with having heard but not acted.

25 – The Communion table is an Alter Table, because we come to this table and are changed by God.

26 – Consider the “Christians” who protest at funerals. Any validity in their message is lost with the anger that carries the message.

27 – Can anyone really keep oneself unstained by the world? And if one could, why would we need Jesus?

II. Literary Study.

C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms

“Anger” appears 253 times in the Bible.

  • God gets angry: Exo 4:14; Num 11:1; Num 11:33; Num 12:9; Num 22:22; Num 25:3&4; Num 32:10, 13, &14; Deut 4:25; Deut 6:15;
  • God is slow to anger: Exo 34:6; Num 14:18;
  • When humans get angry, they miss an opportunity to serve God: Num 24:10,
  • Prov 14:29 – Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but one who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
  • Eph 4:26 – “Be angry, but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not make room for the devil.

D. What is the literary style of the text? And how does it affect the reading? What does a poetic form do to the meaning? Lament/Praise/Petition? Any subtle variations in the repetitions? What is emphasized/minimized by the repetition?

The letter of James is more like Wisdom Literature than a typical Greek epistle.

III. Question the text.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of Gravity: Worship must have an impact on the hearer!
  • Emotional Center: Exhortation and Excoriation
  • Music: “Called as Partners in Christ’s Service”

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

R.A. Martin (Augsburg Commentary: James. 1982) notes: “The law is not the tyrannical force we Christians often consider it to be.”

Luke T. Johnson (“Letter of James,” The New Interpreter’s Bible. Abingdon, 1998) reflects that readers “now occupy the place of the twelve tribes in the Dispersion” and should feel challenged by James to discern if the reality he presents is one they know and seek to live by, or if they have been self deceived.

Michelle Bartel (The Present Word: Fall 2003, Faith Faces the World. PC(USA).) “Even though this word is rooted, or implanted, in us, it is powerless to save our souls until we become rooted in it.”

Laurie Wheeler (“Active Listening,” The Presbyterian Outlook, July 21/28, 2008.) asks: “Would your interaction with Scripture over the past two weeks classify you as a passive passenger or active crew member in faith?

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Exhortation to truly hear and act accordingly in response to the implanted word and there by receive God’s blessing.

The story in Mark 7 similarly condemns religiously following the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit of the law.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

These passages should prompt a hearer to examine their own practice of religion. How do my beliefs affect my actions every day? Has my conduct of worship become a shallow ritual rather than a life altering experience?

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