Daily Devotion – September 23, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison
5:13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.
5:14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.
5:15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
5:16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
5:17 Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
5:18 Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
5:19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another,
5:20 you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
In some ways, the entire Epistle of James is a call to community. It is very difficult to keep your faith deep and strong if you are by yourself. But in community, with the prayers and healing wishes and mutual singing, it is always possible to feel part of a fold of believers. We are to diligently watch out for one another.
Perhaps some of you are elder siblings who were charged to “Watch out for your little sister/brother! Don’t let anything bad happen to her/him!” This chapter of James feels much like that exhortation. We are to look out for one another, pray and sing with one another, remind one another of the goodness of God, and even bring one another back when we’ve left the path.
James is forever reminding us of one other thing, too: God is the judge and will repay as needed, not us. We are to support one another and acknowledge our divine parent, our source of strength and wholeness. No matter what, in times of suffering and in times of joy, we are to pray together, confess together, forgive together, sing together.
Human beings in community always give rise to disagreement and conflict, and there are always problems when two or three are gathered…but James’s view of Christian community offers the ideal of what congregational life could be if we always keep God at the center of our common life together.
Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving us communities of faith in which to live and learn and grow. Bless those communities so that they may abundantly bless not just their members but all those whose lives they touch. Amen.