The letter of James is much more interesting now that I have taken to writing about it.
I did not realize how much importance there is to the letter.
Today's reading from the Letter of James is important as it speaks of bringing a Christian believer (although not specifically referred to as such since the Christian church was not distinct from first-century Judaism yet) who strays back to the fold.
The reading (James 5 13-20):
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them., anointing them in the name of the Lord with oil. The prayer of the sick will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 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. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
My brothers and sisters, if anyone wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner's soul and from death and cover a multitude of sins.
There is so much to unpack, as they say. But I want to deal the last sentence because that is something that I know affects every believer at some point in the Christian journey.
As a Christian, I believe in the truth of Jesus Christ. That he was born of a virgin and lived and died as one of us. That he was betrayed, crucified, died and buried. And that he rose on the third day and is sitteth at the right hand of the father and will come back to judge the quick and the dead. And that He died on the cross to absolve me of my sins if I just believe in him as Lord and Savior.
That is the very, very short version of the truth of Christianity.
But many people, many actually brought up in the church from baby to young adulthood end up at some point rejecting that truth. Some look at other religions. Some look to the "earthly" things such a success and drive to achievement. In the process, they lose that understanding of the simple truths of the faith.
One of the most prolific reasons, I believe, is the reality that all organized religion of any kind is led by human beings. Some of those human beings are driven by their own agenda and not that which is God's agenda.
Think about before the Protestant reformation and the fact that the organized clergy kept the Holy Bible from the people. Only they could read from the Holy Bible and it was in a language that, as the Book of Common Prayer notes in the 39 Articles of Religion, not understandeth by the people. Latin was not understood by the average German. Spaniard. English-speaker. By translating the Holy Bible into the language of the people where ever they lived, it took so much of the mystery of of the Holy Bible.
It also meant that we could all study the Holy Bible and understand such a powerful reading as the one above.
Do you have someone that you care about who has left the Christian fold? One that you wished you could bring back to the fold but did not know how?
What I understand this reading to mean is that the power of prayer can work. It may not be the way we think, but by prayer and asking God to directly intervene, which he also can do in his way, not ours, is all that it takes. It may not be some way to beat to the power of Christ but simply and sincerely saying to that person, "I'll pray for you." maybe all that it takes.
Remember, God is the one in charge.
And that is what makes this letter so important to remember.