Thought for the Day: I have never fully known what to do with this passage of scripture. Over the years, I have listened to clergy use it to begin their sermon, only to go and do something entirely different with the sermon. Though as I think about Jesus, and statements like the first will be last and the last will be first, there was a clear underlying message of a Great Reversal. Jesus declared in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who mourn…” Most of us, when we are grieving, are not thinking of ourselves as blessed. Yet it sounds as if Jesus was seeking to communicate an alternative vision of priorities in God’s kingdom. When you live in a culture 24/7, and it values certain things that do not represent the values of Jesus, it is easy to get lost in those other values – before long, an individual is scrambling for more money, more power, more stuff. Those were very much the values in the Roman Empire, and it sure sounds as if James was playing on this great reversal taught by Jesus. It is hard to imagine the poor having a high status, the wealthy having a low status, but that is what James envisioned. Such statements confound us, causing discomfort, but they also force us to ask questions, including: Whose values do I really honor with my life?
Prayer: Even the passages that cause discomfort or confusion should not be dismissed. Let them sit in my head and in my heart, O Gracious God, for there is much to learn. Amen.
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Rev. Bruce Frogge