“Is anyone among you suffering? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you ill? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”
James 5: 13-14
James 5: 13-20
Our bodies are amazing, when we are in good health it is remarkable and the possibilities are great. When we have an injury or health issue the body still performs but with restrictions dependent on the ailment. The body of Christ is just the same, read 1 Corinthians 12: 12-31 if you require a deeper explanation. In the last section of his letter James calls on the functions, the ministries, of the Body to work well for the benefit of all and God’s glory. He covers: prayer; praise; pastoral care; confession; teaching; and salvation.
The Church is to be the Body of prayer whether in petition, supplication, praise or for specific needs such as healing (vs. 13-14). Prayer is powerful and if spoken in faith by a believer (made righteous by Christ’s work) it ‘availeth much.’ The practical example of Elijah is referred to (vs. 16b-18, 1 Kings 17-18). Praise is always a powerful prayer that brings God into a situation and helps us to see the same from His perspective; it reminds us who is sovereign.
Pastoral care for one another and prayers for healing under the authority that God has given the Church are vital ministries of the Body (vs. 14-15). As well as physical health, spiritual health is vital, confession provides real freedom and the ultimate healing of the soul (vs. 16). The truth of Christ (vs.19) needs to be taught as the foundation of the Church; believers and non-believers alike need the salvation that God offers in Christ (vs. 19-20). In a short passage James has managed to summarise the role of the Church and what will lead to the health of the Body.
The reality that we now face in some ways raises the importance of these ministries but equally makes it harder for them to function. As the aforementioned passage in Corinthians tells us we are all part of the Body. The Body needs each part to fulfill God’s calling upon them, when one suffers, we all suffer. In these times of trial let us look to God and one another. Let us connect with one another by all the means available and work to support the health of the Body of Christ. Let us prayer, praise, care for one another, make our confession, stand on the truth and share that Great News with all who will listen.
To Ponder: What role has God called you to in the Body of Christ? How is it being affected by the pandemic; how might you fulfill your calling in different ways in these trials (and yet also opportunities!)?
Pray: Almighty Father, grant that your church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Praise: The Church’s One Foundation sung by St. Aidan’s Church
Here I am to Worship sung by St. Aidan's Church
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.