Listening and Doing: Most people know of the Letters of Paul - to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians, to name but a few.
But there are other letters, or 'epistles' in the New Testament and 'not a lot of people know that!' One of them, recognisable by its powerful message, is 'The Letter of James'. "Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger". Got him now? That's James!
Most churches have a 'Bible month', usually in June. At the Triangle it's in May and our topic is James' magnificent letter. Week one on Sunday (30th April - just to be completely different) was led by one of our own parishioners - normally he sits quietly in the body of the congregation but, from time to time, Revd Keith Jump occupies pole position at the pulpit under our beautiful stained glass window.
But who was James? He identifies himself only as "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ," who is writing to "the twelve tribes scattered abroad". Wikipedia tells us the epistle is traditionally attributed to James the brother of Jesus (James the Just), and the audience is generally considered to be Jewish Christians, who were dispersed outside Palestine due to persecution.
"James", Revd Keith told us in his sermon, "was ahead of his time". He explained that in life some tasks need a quick response, others a slow one requiring that most difficult of virtues - patience! Being quick to listen and slow to speak and, especially, slow to anger is a message from James for all time and all people. And yet, there is a time for anger, too - witness the righteous anger of Jesus amongst the moneylenders in the temple. Most of all, James urged his readers to 'be doers of the word, and not hearers only'. "Take off the old and put on the new, and humbly accept the word planted in us", said Keith. That's the message that resonates down the millennia to us in our 21st century "please yourself society". We need to confess our sins, ask forgiveness and make a new start with Christ, and to do it 'seven whole days, not one in seven' in the words of the hymn.
Hymns there were a-plenty, too ... 'King of Glory, King of Peace'' (56), (477) 'Teach me to Dance' (a favourite of Revd Keith's, a self-confessed fan of Strictly Come Dancing'), 'I will offer up my life' (446) and (557) 'Let Him to whom we now belong'. We rounded off with 715 - 'The Right Hand of God' - new to me that one, which also gave me a little more information about our Heavenly Father. Other highlights of the service included 'The Sermon on the Mount' (Matthew 5: 1-16), always an inspiring listen.
More from 'The Letter of James', as heard in the Triangle, next week - same time, same place.
Kindly provided by Astley Jones