A timely holy day

Today is the feast of St. James of Jerusalem.  Apart from writing the New Testament epistle of James, his major claim to fame is his work as an early church leader in Jerusalem.  Some disagreements had arisen, and James wisely arbitrated at a large gathering.

Some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”  And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question…

All the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.  After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me.  Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.  And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written…

You can read the whole story in Acts 15, but suffice it to say here that this a timely holiday for us.  James was not a political leader, exactly, but he was a leader nonetheless, and his example of wise discernment and reconciliation are a timely reminder to pray for such leaders to be raised up (and/or elected) in our own midst today.  As the collect of St. James’ day says:

Grant, O God, that, following the example of your servant James the Just, brother of our Lord, your Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.


Blessed Lord,

who hast caused all holy Scriptures

to be written for our learning:

Grant that we may in such wise hear them,

read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them,

that by patience, and comfort of thy holy Word,

we may embrace, and ever hold fast

the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.



In First Things, 9 scholars offer 13 theses on marriage, sexuality, and gender in defense of what they call “heteronormativity.”

Kurt Willems, over at Patheos, explains why he’d consider becoming Anglican–if he wasn’t already an Anabaptist.

Paul Lickteig, a newly ordained Jesuit priest, reflects on the ways the priestly vocation emerged in his life.

Leroy Huizenga wonders if traditional Christianity will survive the latest heterodox textual fragment claiming Jesus took a wife (hint: he thinks it will).



O GOD, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind,

we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men;

that you would be pleased to make thy ways known unto them,

thy saving health unto all nations.

More especially we pray for the good estate of the Catholic Church;

that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit,

that all who profess and call themselves Christians

may be led into the way of truth,

and hold the faith in unity of spirit,

in the bond of peace,

and in righteousness of life.

Finally we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those,

who are any ways afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate;

[especially those for whom our prayers are desired;]

that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them,

according to their several necessities,

giving them patience under their sufferings,

and a happy issue out of all their afflictions.

And this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.



O LORD our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God,

who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day:

Defend us in the same with your mighty power;

and grant that this day we fall into no sin,

neither fall into any kind of danger;

but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance,

to do always that is righteous in your sight;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Thinking Christian ponders the question: Is Christian worship manipulative? Do people willingly subject themselves “to emotional manipulation with [their] minds in cognitive neutral?”

Jeremy Mann, from Mere Orthodoxy, discusses the erosion of the Evangelical pastorate, arguing that the church is running out of good Evangelical pastors.

At Patheos, an agnostic imagines what kind of god she would believe in, if she believed. The article is interesting in so much as her definition resonates with classical understandings of God.

Craig Evans reviews the book “Sin: An Early History of an Idea,” by Paula Fredrikson.

Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today, explains why Evangelicals are so fascinated with the Dead Sea Scrolls–and why they display a “reverent hush” whenever they come into presence of the actual scrolls. Turns out Evangelicals are sacramental after all.

Kevin Miller offers four conversation skills every leader or pastor must have to be successful.


O Come, let us sing unto the LORD; * let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; * and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.
For the LORD is a great God; * and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are all the corners of the earth; * and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his, and he made it; * and his hands prepared the dry land.
O come, let us worship and fall down, * and kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For he is the Lord our God; * and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; * let the whole earth stand in awe of him.
For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth; * and with righteousness to judge the world, and the peoples with his truth.


Grant us, O Lord, not to mind earthly things, but to love 
things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among 
things that are passing away, to cleave to those that shall 
abide; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and 
reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever 
and ever. Amen.

Grant us, O Lord, we pray thee, to trust in you with all our 
heart; for, as thou dost alway resist the proud who 
confide in their own strength, so thou dost not forsake those 
who make their boast of thy mercy; through Jesus Christ our 
Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Enuma Okoro discusses the new image of friendship emerging from the 30-something set (at least, new to them): sustained, life-long relationships that take years to cultivate.

John Wilson reviews the book “The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt,” by Joseph Laconte, which focuses on the experience of God’s invisible, hidden presence reflected through mystery, the holding of truths in tension, and the limits of knowledge.

Elizabeth Scalia offers an intelligent warning against political idolatry.

Catholicity and Covenant reflects on the gender theory expressed in the marriage rite of the Diocese of Sydney (Australia), which requires the bride to answer the question “Will you honour and submit to him, as the church submits to Christ?”