Mercy Triumphs over Judgement

MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGEMENT  SPINNING GOLD FROM STRAW – SERMON RESOURCES
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What are you willing to do?

  • You could foster a child, or adopt a child.
  • You could provide respite care for a foster family.
  • You could babysit.
  • You could become a Court Appointed Special Advocate, we have several in our church.
  • You could become a mentor to a foster child through Our House, a community partner.
  • You could feed a child through Feed America, every $1 donated provides 11 meals.
  • You could help with Peace Neighborhood Center & Community Action Network.
  • You could help a child learn to read at a local elementary school.
  • You could become a tutor and help a child with their homework or studies.
  • You could advocate for paid sick leave, a higher minimum wage, or family medical leave.

ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP

This is a short list of things we can do, I would invite you to consider what you could do.

This Sunday, Pastor Donnell spoke on the early portions of the Letter of James.  Several times he drew attention to James’ exhortation to care for those who have no one to protect or represent them in society:

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

In addition to James’ clear reference to the care for widows and orphans, Pastor Donnell asked if the “pollution of the world” might not include how the world looks on those who are less productive (e.g., the poor) relative to those who appear to be very productive (e.g., the rich).  Later in the letter, James makes it very clear that favoring the rich in any way over the poor is not God’s desire (e.g., James 2: 1-6).

This week, we suggest that we use James 1:27 to help us examine how we consider those who’s status in our society gives them less power and resources than most others.  This would include most orphans and many widows, but could include many people who grew up in dysfunctional families or who have diseases or afflictions which make it difficult for them to be “successful” in modern life.  It might also include those who simply have not had access to the resources that many of us have benefitted from and that we take for granted.

When you have some time to pray, take a few moments to quiet your mind, letting the concerns of the day or week fade into the background.  If this is difficult, you might give each of your concerns over to God, trusting that he will take care of you until your time of prayer is over. Next, consider the people who you have seen in the past day or so.  This might have been while driving or on the bus.  It might have been at work or in the store.  You might even consider people you saw on TV or read about in the newspaper or on the internet, if their representation had some degree of reality to it.  Regardless, let images of them flow through your mind, taking some notice of any feelings that arise as you recall them.  These might be feelings of joy, gratitude, concern or fear.  They might be feelings of envy or criticism.

Next, read James 1:27 slowly, pausing on key words, like orphan, widow, distress or the world.

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

As you read the verse, go back through the pictures of the people whom you recalled earlier.  How might their situation be like that of a widow or orphan in James’ time?  How does the rest of society look at them today.  How does God look at them?  How do you look at them?  You might converse with God about how the two of you look at various people in your life.

When it seems right to move on, read the passage again, more slowly this time. (It’s a very short passage.) Does anything strike you differently this time through, a new word or thought?  This time be more open to including other people or types of people in your thoughts as you read.  Is the Spirit drawing your attention to anyone in particular or people in a particular type of situation?  If so, how does God feel towards this person or these people?  How do you feel towards them?  If you are feeling a nudge from the Spirit to take some kind of concrete action of care towards someone, make a note of it.  You might share this thought with a close friend or your life group.

When you are done, consider closing with a prayer expressing gratitude to God for his care and provision for you.

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: spiritual.practices@annarborvineyard.org.

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