Even as our world continues to wrestle with the ramifications of COVID-19 and the economic crisis, we are bombarded with acts of escalating racism. As people of faith we must ACT NOW to end racism— action that is accompanied by prayer for guidance, healing, and protection. These posts are offered to unite our actions and our prayers for the sake of God’s justice.
Faith without Works is Dead (James 2:14-16, NRSV)
The Scripture reading is drawn from Sunday’s lesson for August 16, 2020 ©Uniform Lessons Series, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.
2. 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
In the Midst of Distress
Today’s prayer by Donald H. Ashmall, International Council of Community Churches, is from, “United Against Racism: Churches for Change,” ©New York: Friendship Press, 2018, p. 32. You may purchase the book through Friendship Press, on their website at store.friendshippress.org.
God of our past, our present, and our future, Ruler of all that has been, is, and ever shall be: we worship You as our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Companion in time and beyond.
We come to You now confessing that our prideful pretensions have been beaten down and crushed. Our expectations have been shattered into cutting shards that cause our spirits to bleed. Our plans have come to naught, and our expectations have been made a mockery. Yet we dare to proclaim that our hope is not in vain. Though we are forced to endure a long night of sorrow and grief, we know that joy will come in the morning. That which is hateful and hate filled will one day give way to the influence of Your compassionate Spirit, and when that day comes that all of creation is weighed in the balance scales, love will triumph.
So, we worship You in confidence, knowing that in the midst of our struggles, Your presence will never leave or forsake us. There truly is a balm in the Gilead of our souls, and whatever the ails of our spirits may be, by Your mercy, we will be healed.
However battered and bruised we may feel, and wounded though we may be, send us forth this day to ministries of mercy. Aid us as we seek to help the helpless. Cause us to love even the unlovely. Free us to unbind those held captive. Give us the insight to proclaim and to live justice, even in a world that denies it to so many. Help us persist in service to all Your people, revealing to us in our labors that peace that passes all understanding, even as we celebrate Your coming victory.
We pray it in the name of the risen and living Christ. Amen.