Thursday, September 24, 2015

James 5:13-20

Year B - Pentecost +18 or Energy to Witness 18
September 27, 2015

James 5:13-20

The connection between sin and sickness is both direct and beside the point. Being able to distinguish these is a great help. Otherwise we unnecessarily let athlete’s foot develop into gangrene or cut off someone’s hand. This gets acted out politically in regard to policies against immigrants (whether documented or not). Additional socio-political arenas of race, gender, sexual orientation, and other moral arguments reveal some version of group identity (sin) and economic anxiety (sickness).

Of greater interest this time around, we can play with salt/fire and prayer/fervency. You might want to set up a little grid and begin entering words you associate with those words and the way they interact with one another. Eventually they may begin to reveal a current Pentecostal setting overlooked until now and the impetus to engage others in their/our truths/realities/experiences/hopes/helps/and-on-and-on.

Remember that prayer is here an alignment with a future pull on our present. Anything other than this, regardless of whether it is named “prayer” or not, is a distraction and needs to be called out. Prayer is not intense repetition. Prayer is not praise or plea. Prayer is not the use of certain words or forms. Prayer is a healed tomorrow reaching into the sickness of today and offering a reorientation as dramatic as forgiveness (never deserved). A presumption of health in the sickest of us shifts the balance of power. A preoccupation with and preemptive use of mercy stands behind the surface work of prayer.

It is important today, when sin and sickness no longer automatically cohere, to change language from sin and soul to promise and actual lived experience. Little by little we find suffering relieved more energizing than sin categorized and dividing self-from-self and person-from-person and group-from-group.

Should any wander, including yourself, engage prayer to set a larger context into which we might live and move and have our being. Sounds like a lot of prayer is in order, just not claiming, blaming, shaming prayer.

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