Highrock Brookline announced today that Kat Hampson will become its new Lead Pastor following a vote at a members’ meeting on February 28, 2021.
In anticipation of our upcoming sermon series on the book of James, Highrocker Sam Guthrie has written our Spring Liturgy
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:Greetings. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
- James 1:1-8
In the face of trials, believe and don’t doubt! Zero doubt. At first glance, James seems to be encouraging his readers flapping in the kiddie pool of doubt to simply stand up. But as the hangover of 2020 lingers, I imagine that for many of us, doubt can feel insurmountable. Like the inches separating the deep end from the shallows, we have drifted into the deep and we don’t know what to do. As Christians we know that to doubt is a result of sin; a broken characteristic of the fall that lingers as a thorn in the side of faith. But zero doubt sounds like something you program into a robot. For humans, feeling double-minded and unstable pops up more times than we care to admit.
So what are we to do? How do we live in faith and discern what God would have us do in this (almost) post-pandemic world when doubt has been a plague for far longer than the coronavirus has?
In John’s Gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room after his resurrection. One of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas, cannot fathom that Jesus has risen from the dead. But when Jesus shows up, he says to Thomas - “put your fingers here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop doubting and believe.” After Thomas inspects Jesus’ wounds, places his hands in Jesus’ side, and examines the still healing wounds from his crucifixion, he cries out “My Lord and my God!
Jesus’ call for Thomas to examine his wounds provides the necessary commentary for James’ exhortation. For all who doubt, we are quite literally called to explore Jesus. We are to see and feel his wounds, and know that they were endured for us and inflicted because of us. They are battle scars that remind us that the best kind of love bleeds for the other. It is because of these scars that Jesus can look upon us, especially in this particular time, and we can believe him when he says “I have scars too.” May all the double-minded and unstable find peace and stability in the scars of the living Jesus. By them we are healed (Isaiah 53:5) and filled with a lasting joy. Through them we may approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).
Our hope is this will be a time set apart to meet with Jesus. One way we can lean deeply into these moments is by marking the beginning and the end of this time with a tangible act that sets it apart as sacred. We recommend striking a match and lighting a candle. Other options include: dimming the lights, closing a door, or going outside. At the end of the Liturgy, you’re invited to exit the space with another tangible act (i.e.: extinguishing the candle, turning on the lights, opening the door, or going back inside). You may not have time to do all of the liturgical practices listed below. That’s okay! Our hope is that you can use them in some capacity throughout the week.
Strike a match and light the candle
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, all creatures here below
Praise Him, above ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Prayer of St. Francis (See below)
Weed out my doubt,
So that faith in your promise may grow.
Extinguish the candle
James begins with asking his readers to consider their trials pure joy. Spend a few minutes writing or reflecting about the differences between happiness and joy. How might joy be connected to faith?
What are some wounds or doubts that you have incurred over the last year that makes James’ call to consider trials pure joy seem impossible?
Reading through this passage calls to mind the perseverance and suffering of our Savior. How might Jesus’ wounds and familiarity with suffering shape our faith?
Prayer of St. Francis
Draw us into your love, Christ Jesus : and deliver us from fear.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Breath prayer is an ancient Christian prayer practice. It is a very short prayer of praise or petition, just four to eight syllables. The first phrase is generally an invocation of God’s name, spoken as you inhale. The second phrase, usually a need or request, is spoken as you exhale.
The breath prayer is usually said quietly and repeated several times. Some people sing it; others chant it. We’ve provided a prayer for you to use, if that’s helpful. Take your time with the breath prayer.
Weed out my doubt,
So that faith in your promise may grow.