St. John 4: 1 – 14/St. James 2: 1 – 13

Jan. 23, 2022

St. James:

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

2For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;

3And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

4Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

5Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

6But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?

7Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

8If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

9But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

10For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

11For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

12So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

13For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer shows two readings for this Third Sunday in Epiphany. The St. John reading is in regard to ‘the woman at the well’ that has been discussed and dissected in a million Bible studies everywhere. So we’ll look at the St. James verses which may not be quite so familiar to everyone.

A couple of years ago, I saw on YouTube, a group of young adults who were tattooed. Not nice little dolphins or rainbows or flowers; no, they had had their faces tattooed with terrible things. One young woman – so pretty and sparkling eyes … had the ‘f’ word tattooed under one eye and ‘you’ under the other … as well as other things. Her picture brought tears to my eyes. How much loathing for oneself must one have to do such a thing? They say the eyes are the windows to the soul – what had happened in this young woman’s life that she wanted those words to be the window dressing?

We tend to accept tattooes on men a little easier (at least those of us of a ‘certain age’) but the young men had so deformed their appearances to be frightening beyond what one would expect. These are the faces their children see; the faces their grandchildren will see. Why, heavenly Father? Why?

3And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:” What would happen if one of these people came to church? How would they be greeted? Where would the ushers encourage them to sit? Would they be welcomed at coffee hour? Would we be able to look them straight in the eye and ignore the ink covering their faces?

That’s what we are called to do. Welcome, feed, embrace those that are different or ‘other’. I pray God that we have learned at the feet of Jesus to see the person and not the things that may cause us to shrink from them. There but for the grace of God go I.

5 thoughts on “St. John 4: 1 – 14/St. James 2: 1 – 13”

  1. I knew a young girl many years ago who had only one eye, the other had been removed when she was a baby because it was cancerous. When I first met her it was difficult not to show shock or surprise but after I had known her for a while I no longer noticed the lack of the eye. She was a happy young woman who had never let her disfigurement hinder her in any way, she had a decent job, a boyfriend and I hope is now is a happily married woman with a nice home and a family of her won. I have seen photos of men and women with facial tattoos that are so disfiguring I do not understand what drives people to abuse themselves in such a way. They really must have on some level a deep self loathing whereas my young friend had not chosen her disfigurement but could accept herself how she was and live a good life but the young women, often nice looking, deliberately making thenselves look weird or fightening is something I do not understand. God loves us all however blessed or otherwise we are in the looks department but these young people perhaps already feeling themselves disadvantaged in some way are making their earthly lives so much more difficult with their choices. We can only pity them and hope they get the psychological help they are screaming out for and to be kind to them if they cross our path.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen church members welcome all types into their services. I have seen other ignore the unusual. I once had a friend who would wear her fluffy slippers when attending a new church. She could easily tell if she was welcomed or being rejected.

    Liked by 1 person

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