Year A – Advent 3 – James 5:7-10

James 5:7–10  – Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Summary – James calls the faithful to be patient in enduring suffering until the Judge comes. This judge is “standing at the doors.” When will judgment be? This strong text condemns the wicked, greedy, and unjust rich. It refers to the “coming” (parousia) of the Lord and the judgment. There are two excellent reasons to think this is not the Last Judgment, but is judgment “coming” of Jesus on apostate Jerusalem in 70 AD: a) “Near” [eggiken] or “at hand” (5:8), when referring temporal events, means the event is near in time. For example: John referring to the imminence of Jesus’ kingdom (Mt 3:2, see also, 21:1, and 26:46) and Luke 21:20 -“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.” Jesus taught clearly that Jerusalem will be judged in the “days of vengeance” before “this generation passes away” (Lk 21, Matt. 24:15). b) James refers specifically to those who “have condemned” and “murdered the Just [One] [ton dikaion]” (James 5:6). Other NT texts refer to Jesus with the very same words (Acts 7:52, 22:14, 1 Pt 3:18, 1 Jn 2:1). The Just One “does not resist you.” This is a rather clear echo of Jesus’ trial in which He was condemned (katadikazo) (Mk 14:60-64). Why will judgment be? James highlights three areas relating to this judgment. a) Corrupt living prepares one for judgment (1-3). The “rich” in Jerusalem tended to be those who robbed the poor, were traitors to Israel (tax-collectors), or the selfish who did not share with the needy. Like impurities burned away, so will the wicked. b) Fraudulent living prepares one for judgment (4-6). Injustices in labor demonstrate wickedness. So unjust payment for labor is one clear example. Murdering “the Just One” (ton dikaion) is the culmination of wickedness.
b) On the other hand, righteous living also prepares one (in the best sense) for judgment (7-9). Sowing righteousness brings the fruit of glory and vindication over enemies.

Insight – Believers must not grumble toward other brethren, but love one another. How do you treat other brethren? Even though the basic setting/fulfillment here is in the past, just as they did, we must let the realities of mercy and judgment must drive us toward love for one another. We all face a judgment before the Lord, which may take place at a time when we do not expect it. Jesus may not come soon, but you may go soon to Him.

Questions For Little Saints
1) What judgment event does James address? The judgment on Jerusalem in 70 AD which demonstrated that Christ now reigns from heaven.
2) Is there any other judgment? Yes. There is a Last Judgment when each of us will give account for our lives.
3) What sins does James condemn (5:1-9)? James condemns greediness, unfairness (injustice), grumbling, and murder, especially the murder of the Just One, Jesus.
4) What must believers do to prepare for judgment? Love Jesus and be kind to others, especially believers, knowing that we have been shown mercy.

Discussion – How can we show our faithfulness to Christ in patience and endurance during this Advent season?

Prayer – (BCP on the Reign of Christ) Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Year A – Fifth Sunday of Easter – 1 Peter 2:2-10

Fifth Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 2:2-10: Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation- if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: ‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner’, and ‘A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Summary – The theme of 1 Peter is enduring suffering on the basis of Christ’s finish work, through the hope of resurrection. In this passage Peter is proclaiming truths about Christians, based on the work of Christ. The metaphor Peter uses here is one of a house. Christ is the cornerstone (which we remember from a few weeks ago was the most important foundation stone Psalm 118), and Christians are smaller stones, whom God uses to put on the foundation of Christ, to build up his spiritual house, his kingdom.

Insight – Consider the theme of suffering in connection to our identity in the Church. Peter also calls Christians, a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”  These were all things that the Jew’s of Jesus day believed they were. This is a citation of Exodus 19 for Israel at Mt. Sinai. Now Peter applies this to the Church. Only those who accept Jesus as the foundation are the true chosen race, and holy nation.”  We once were enemies of God, but now are his people, adopted as his children. This is so that we may “proclaim the excellencies of him,” or in other words to worship him, and give him glory in our lives. If theme of the overall book of 1 Peter is to have endurance in suffering, based on what Christ has done, being part of this Chosen, Royal, Holy Priesthood means that we do not suffer or endure trials in vain. Our suffering is never alone and never lacks a redemptive purpose. We are acting as God’s priests in the world, especially in suffering.

Child’s Catechism – What is the Church? The Church is God’s temple, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.

Discussion – How can the truths of who you are in Christ (part of a holy nation, chosen race) help you when troubles arise?

Prayer – Almighty God, we are thankful that through Christ’s work, he has been made the cornerstone. We are thankful that you have opened our eyes, and soften our hearts, that that we may embrace Christ by faith. We thank you that you have made us part of you’re holy nation. We ask that our lives may reflect who we are in you, and that we would always proclaim your excellencies. Amen.

(Contributed by Jared McNabb)

Year A – Fourth Sunday of Easter – 1 Peter 2:19-25

Fourth Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 2:19-25: For it is to your credit if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, where is the credit in that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Summary – Peter’s first epistle was written to those who were suffering persecutions. It may be that it was written earlier than many consider and therefore reflects the persecutions surrounding Acts 7 or 12 (e.g., believing Jews scattered after persecutions arose in Jerusalem). The more conventional view is that these persecutions were part of the Neronian persecution which began 64 A.D. In the process of giving expectations to those under duress, Peter naturally moves to the suffering that Jesus experienced and shows as a model Jesus suffering without retaliation. These verses are some of the richest statements about redemption in the pages of Scripture. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

Insight – Whatever the original setting, the principles Peter teaches are readily applicable. We cannot reason that because we are in a desperate situation, we can be unkind, revile,  retaliate, or anyway take our own vengeance. That is exactly what we are tempted to do when someone comes against us. Whether it is an unkind word, a taunt, bullying, criticism . . .  any of these things tempt us to respond with a desire of repaying evil with evil. But Peter provides the redemptive model and motivation. Jesus modeled for us a person who could receive harm without giving it back. Jesus simply entrusted Himself to the Father. But Jesus’s once-for-all suffering provides us with the freedom and the spiritual resources to never pay back evil for evil. Christ model became salvation so that we can live for righteousness and we have healing in Him. We do not need to get deliverance for ourselves or right every wrong done to us. God was take care of it and he is a much better at justice than we are: God “judges justly.”

Child’s Catechism -What did Jesus do for us? “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

Discussion – Can you think of one person that has wronged you? How can you apply this call to not repay evil with evil in that situation?

Prayer – Almighty God, in this Eastertide, give us grace to endure all manner of light afflictions and troubling suffering(s) so that we may more fully appreciate the once-for-all work of the only Savior who brought healing to us through His stripes and Life indeed through His resurrection. May we walk in His steps so that we may ascend in His glory through His resurrection power. In His name above every name we pray. Amen.

Year A – 1 Peter 1:17-23 – Third Sunday of Easter

Third Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 1:17-23: If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

Summary – Peter addresses those who are “in exile,” those who are scattered about, probably due to persecution. He encourages them to remember to behave in such a way as to acknowledge that God is impartial and his judgment is fair and based on the deeds of people. So, live with reverent fear. It also calls for them to remember that they were redeemed by Christ’s work, his blood. They have come to trust the God who raised Jesus from the dead. They have been born anew according to the word of the Gospel.

Insight – There is a saying, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” Whenever there is a scare, whenever people believe that some major calamity is about to happen, when people prepare themselves for the worst, they tend to think of how they will defend themselves. I am thinking of Y2K: when people thought things may come to a crash because of computer failures. People stocked up on guns and ammunition. Thankfully, no one got a chance to test out their desperate measures philosophy. Peter is telling those who were in a desperate situation to remember that God’s judgment is impartial and according to deeds. No one may justify themselves because the circumstances are dire. When a person is suffering or in persecution or facing direct adversity, one may not excuse their bad behavior because of those circumstances. As James 1:20 says, “for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” Rather, we are to look to Christ to redeemed us, who was raised from the dead and has given us a new kind of life. The best preparation for desperate times, even of persecution, is to practice being like Jesus who sacrificed himself in the midst of suffering.

Child’s catechism – How does God judge? God judges impartially and according to our deeds.

Discussion – Has anyone ever made fun of you? Has anyone directly attacked you for your faith? Did it make you feel like you wanted to retaliate against them?

Prayer – Almighty God, in this Eastertide, lead us to a better understand of the meaning of your Son’s death on the cross and especially, the Resurrection. Grant that we may be more like Christ who was like a lamb led to slaughter and who gave himself for others, resulting in true exaltation and victory. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.