St. Mary's Church

James the Apostle

James the Apostle

25 Jul 2021 • General news

Jeremiah 45. 1-5

1The word that the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Baruch son of Neriah, when he wrote these words in a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah: 2Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: 3You said, ‘Woe is me! The LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.’ 4Thus you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: I am going to break down what I have built, and pluck up what I have planted that is, the whole land. 5 And you, do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for I am going to bring disaster upon all flesh, says the LORD; but I will give you your life as a prize of war in every place to which you may go.’

Acts 11. 27—12.2

27At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. 29The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; 30this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

1About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. 2He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword.

Matthew 20. 20-28

20The mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favour of him. 21And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ 22But Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’ 23He said to them, ‘You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’

24When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. 25But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’ 

Thought for the Feast of James the Apostle 25th July 2021 by Malcolm Tyler

The first thing to say about James the Apostle is that we don’t know very much; son of Zebedee, brother to John, one of the witnesses to the transfiguration and someone whose mother, or possibly himself, wanted him to sit at the right hand of Jesus sums it up. Needless to say, there are various other traditions about James, namely that he evangelised Spain and that his remains are buried in Santiago de Compsotela, none of which can be proved.

Today’s gospel reading though gives an interesting insight into one of the issues which the disciples themselves fought with – power. Whether it was James or his mother that wanted him and John to sit at the right hand of Jesus is contested but essentially the request was about power. The other disciples themselves were angered by the request and Jesus responds by teaching that the leadership he seeks is a servant hearted form of leadership, one which contrasts with the leadership offered by Gentile rulers.

Power is of course alive in our society today and one of the significant issues I have had to explore with the ordination candidates I have worked with over the last five or six years is how they understand the power dynamic between clergy and lay people. This also includes issues around how they themselves respond to those in authority over them. Few, if any of us, like the way some people use the power that they have. I was interested a couple of months ago to hear that a bishop (I don’t know who) had suggested to a person who was leading a training course I had taken on resilience that people can be ‘very deferential to his face, but ready to stab him in the back once they were parted’. To me this suggested an unawareness on the part of the bishop to the power he wields over other clergy. Rightly or wrongly, we are often deferential to those who hold an ability to say yes or no to moves we might want to make in the future. Honesty is always the better policy, as I have always said to our children, but sometimes it can have consequences we would rather not face!

Sadly too, the abuse of power can go right to the top – there are numerous examples in politics, the church and the charitable sector. It is worth considering though how we use the power that we have. For the majority of us, we have had tremendous power over our children. We endeavour to use that power wisely, encouraging healthy lifestyles for instance with regular meals and bedtimes, even suggesting curfews as teenagers explore evenings out with friends. In the workplace to, we have power over those who work with us. Whether we are grumpy or bright on a Monday morning can have a significant effect on those around us. Being optimistic or pessimistic too affects those around us and may condition their response to us.

Jesus suggests a servant hearted approach to us, not counting ourselves better than others. Sometimes this is particularly hard but if we recall the way God himself relates to us maybe it becomes a little easier. For me, God is infinitely loving and forgiving. Having loved me into being, he knows all my weaknesses and faults and yet continues to love me and to forgive me when I ask. His generosity is limitless and it is that generosity that I try to emulate in my dealings with others even if I do fail regularly.

Intercessions for 25th July 2021

Holy God out of your goodness, a great crowd was fed and satisfied from a small offering of food.

In this time of prayer we thank you for supplying all our needs and offer you the love of our hearts as we pray for our Church here in Walsgrave with all its varied ministries; for the youngest to the oldest; for those of certain faith and for those who struggle with doubts.

We give thanks for the church throughout the world, praying for all Christians, especially those who are persecuted for their faith.

(Short Silence)

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Creator God we pray for those throughout the world who are physically hungry. We know that so many of the world’s people lack enough nourishment; help us to be diligent in prayer and generous in giving to those agencies which try to alleviate their suffering.

Locally we offer thanks for the work of our local foodbank based at Walsgrave Baptist church, and we pray for all those in our city who rely on the resources of others for food; shelter and clothing.

(Short Silence)

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Father God, we raise before you our homes and our relationships for you to work in. We thank you for the community of which we are part; for those who share with us in its activities, for all who serve its varied interests. Help us, to make our own contribution to the community and to learn to be good neighbours at all times.

We pray for the schools in our parish, who finished term this week. We pray that both the students and teachers may have a good break and we pray for all who are on holiday or looking forward to a break over the next few weeks.

(Short Silence)

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Loving God we place in your hands those who are sick. We ask that you ease their pain, and heal the damage they are suffering in body, mind or spirit. Be present with them through the support of friends and in the care of doctors and nurses.

(Short Silence)

In a few moments of silence, we hold before you those who are ill or in other need at this time.

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Merciful God we offer our thanks for lives well lived but now come to an end. Be close to those bereaved by their passing and console them with your unfailing love.

(Short Silence)

We pray for those we know who are mourning and ask for your strength and support in their time of grief.

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Faithful God, through these prayers we offer afresh our lives as well as our words; send us out into the world determined that each moment from now on becomes an offering of love for you.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.