Devotion – Sunday 5th September “Called Outside Our Boundaries”

SCRIPTURE James 2: 1-7 and 14-17 (NRSV) My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes also comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, and to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there’ or ‘Sit at my feet’, have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you say to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

STORY (by Pearl Wilcox in Daily Bread. abridged) An elderly man with poor eyesight often found it difficult to read the small print in the hymnbooks at church. One Sunday when the congregation was singing a song containing the line, “Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,” this near-sighted gentleman misread the word “Sense” and gave the hymn this odd version, “Judge not the Lord by feeble saints!” Our church is like a net cast into the sea; it gathers up strong and feeble saints; but the most fainthearted and weak are precious in the sight of God. The church is as strong as its members and Christ values it not for its external advantages but for the love which graces its members. A congregation may be poor, it may be without the attraction of outward show, but if the members possess the principles of the character of Christ, they will have joy in their souls. The Holy Spirit will abide in their worship and the weakest will be made strong. May we build a fellowship in which persons weak and strong find love and acceptance.

REFLECTIONS How might you try to explain to a questioning friend the statement saying the church in which you worship is as strong as its members? Take a moment or two to reflect and maybe comment on the verse found in 1 Corinthians 12: 26, in the NIV which says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if the member is honoured, all rejoice together with it”? What can we do, if anything, in attempting to enable the members in our local church fellowship, weak and strong, to continue to find love and acceptance in the congregation?

HYMN No. 577 in Community of Christ Sings Called by Christ to love each other, called by Christ to seek the lost, may we each, as sister, brother, follow Christ, not counting cost. One in daring, one in sharing, follow Christ, not counting cost. Called by Christ to be a witness, called by Christ to this, our day, in Christ’s strength we have our fitness, work to do and words to say. On Christ leaning, find life’s meaning, work to do and words to say. Called by Christ to be earth’s leaven, called by Christ to shed God’s light may we bring a view of heaven to the world’s despairing plight. Christ revealing, wondrous healing to this world’s despairing plight. Called by Christ as friends and learners, called by Christ for peace on earth, in this world as Christ’s sojourners we receive new pow’r, new birth. As we’re praising (how amazing!) we receive new pow’r, new birth.

PRAYER Almighty God, We welcome the Holy Spirit as our teacher and our guide. Help us to listen, use and respect this blessing and this gift. Use us Lord, in small ways and in even larger ways. Help us to make a difference for good in our families, in our friendships and in our neighbourhoods. Help us to somehow, at least from time to time, to be able to enrich the lives of those who are near and dear to us. This prayer we ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Devotion produced by Barrie Fox

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