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Archive for July 25th, 2019

Image result for St. James the elder icon
Acts 12:
12 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword

Prayer of the Day

O gracious God, Your servant and apostle James was the first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the name of Jesus Christ. Pour out upon the leaders of Your Church that spirit of self-denying service that they may forsake all false and passing allurements and follow Christ alone, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Readings: Acts 11: 27-12: 5  Psalm 56   Romans 8: 28-39   St. Mark 10: 35-45

About: St. James and his brother John, sons of Zebedee and Salome (see Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40), were fishermen in the Sea of Galilee who were called with Peter and his brother Andrew to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22). In the Gospel lists of Jesus’ disciples, James is listed following Peter and preceding John. Together these three appear as leaders of the Twelve. Because James precedes John, it is reasoned that James is the elder of the brothers. The Book of Acts records that James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I, probably between AD 42 and 44 (Acts 12:1-2). Thus James is the first of the Twelve to die a martyr and the only apostolic martyrdom recorded in the Bible. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  Our Lord equipped His apostles for suffering (see Matthew 10:17-19).  Matthew 10 is the Lord’s sermon to the Apostles after He called them.  He equips the apostolic Church with the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the redemption Jesus would win for us all upon the Cross. The message of the Christ and His Cross will be met with opposition.  James the Elder (or Greater) was the first apostolic martyr.  

We want to witness glory and fame, wealth and power, especially in our lives, and the guarantee of such  is “mammon” (Matthew 6:24).  We want to be number 1,even in the Faith as the successful, vibrant congregation(s). So many churches sacrificed doctrine and morality to be “relevant”, to be popular, that  is, fame. The petition from the Collect of the Day is especially poignant in these days: 

Pour out upon the leaders of Your Church that spirit of self-denying service that they may forsake all false and passing allurements and follow Christ alone.

James and John keenly wanted to use divine power:

Luke 9:53-55 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them

James and his brother John were especially susceptible to that lust for fame as they wanted to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand when He came in power (see today’s Gospel reading).  Jesus named James and his brother John “Boanerges”, that is the “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), possibly because of their impetuous nature and temperament.  James and John  asked the Lord, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you” (today’s Gospel reading). This verse maybe the first example of the false, “name it and claim it”  practice. The disciple cannot demand of His Lord what the Lord gives only by His command and grace. They asked Him to sit on His right and left hand when He came in glory.  James and John did  sit on His left and right hand:  in martyrdom. They were baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection and preached Christ.  As Jesus taught them that in the reign of God it is not about being number 1, lording it over others, but serving each other under the Lord.  The Lord Himself, “… came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (vs. 45).  

As Americans we crave to be number 1 but whom we remember in our lives are those who gave of their lives for us and who taught us Christ. James no longer sought his own fame, but proclaimed the Name above all names that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow (see Philippians 2)  The Lord gave His life for us and for our salvation and John the Elder preached Jesus Christ.

Lord, curb our vain impatience For glory and for fame.  Equip us for such suff-rings As glorify Your Name. (“By All Your Saints in Warfare, Lutheran Service Book, #518, stanza 21)

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