altogether joy?

My sermon from this past Sunday – the first in a series in the book of James.

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This morning we begin a series of sermons in the book of James – a relatively short letter that comes just after the book of Hebrews in the New Testament. The book of James, as we’ll see, gets down very quickly to the nitty-gritty of the Christian life – how to behave; what’s worth putting your energy into; what our relationships should look like. James gets down very quickly to the basics of Christian life and action. In many ways we may find this refreshing. We don’t always want intellectual discussions about theology. We don’t always want conversations about realities that seem to hover 15 feet off the ground – never touching down in the world where we live. So already in terms of the big picture of James maybe we are encouraged. Sounds like someone we want to hear from. 

But of course we have to get into the details of what James says. As we do so, the going gets tough, pretty quickly. In fact, listening to James is a lot like listening to the Old Testament prophets. Listening to James is a lot like listening to Jesus. The fact that James sounds a lot like Jesus probably shouldn’t come as a surprise since the James who wrote this letter was probably none other than Jesus’ own half-brother. Just as in the case of the prophets and of Jesus, in listening to James there may well be moments when we respond by saying – come on you can’t really mean that.

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