September 23

James 5:13-15

“Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.” vs. 13

James imagines that the community to which he is writing has close connections, not only to other members of the community, but to God, the Divine Presence and Source of all Being. This means, he believes, that in every situation of life the people will turn to God, not only with prayers for healing when there is suffering, but with prayers of praise when things are going well. In other words there will be no times when prayer is not at the center of the community’s life together. The connections that James wrote about have been tested in many of our congregations through the last year. There’s been plenty of suffering as COVID has had its way with us–and few occasions for celebration. Only now are we seeing regular programming resume and people coming back for in-person worship. For some congregations, those with strong prayer connections, the testing has been an opportunity for growth. People have found ways to stay in touch and been diligent in offering prayers for one another. And even in the darkest days there have been times of cheerfulness and joy, and God has been praised. Those prayers have been the key to resilience for many, and continued praying will be the key to recovery as congregations make their way into uncertain futures. COVID has changed the church scene–our only certainty is God’s continued presence!

Thought for the Day: How does my congregation encourage prayer?

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