Here are some thoughts regarding the reading from James for this coming Sunday. This was sent out via email to the people of St. Timothy Lutheran Church.
Second Reading: James 5:13-20
13Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
19My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
This passage from James rings out with how the Christian community is to function. We have the range of emotions and conditions: suffering, cheerfulness, sickness and we have the responses of prayer, singing, having the elders pray for the sick. We are to confess our sins to one another. This is not an individualistic version of faith, but one that involves the entire body of Christ in a particular location. Basically, we are to look after each other.
I like the way the resource Sundays and Seasons summed up this passage. “Marks of the Christian community include praying for those who are sick and in need, celebrating with those in good health, restoring those who have strayed, confessing sins to one another, and offering forgiveness to each other.”
This morning I found out from a member that one of our other members was in the hospital and to add her to the prayer list. THAT is an example of what we need to do—care for one other!
On Sunday we will be having a brief healing service as part of morning worship. Is there some way in which you need healing? It may be emotional, spiritual or physical. God longs to meet our needs as we cry out in prayer.
It seems to me that the entire book of James is about how to live together as the people of God, whether regarding speech, treatment of guests or the issues raised in this passage. We are the body of Christ together, bearing these marks as witness to our world.