Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

James 1:25

"But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing."

Albert Einstein spent most of his productive career looking for a "unified field theory" -- one grand expression that would explain all matter. E=MC2 only explained the relationship of matter to other matter. While that's about all I know on the subject. And if anyone is reading this I'm sure I'll get all kinds of greater explanations from more learned minds. I have been engaged in a similar theological pursuit: To find the one thing that explains all of life and eternity in one simple statement. Here, James comes pretty darned close.

We need to remember at the outset that James is the close relative of Jesus; possibly his brother. We need to do what the disciples did on the day of Jesus' Resurrection. We need to run to the tomb with Peter and John. It is odd that James (not the James who wrote this letter -- called James the Less -- but James, the brother of John) is never mentioned in John's Gospel. I'll make a gross assumption for a moment. Since he's never mentioned in the gospel but appears almost exclusively WITH Peter and John at all the big moments of Jesus life, why not now? I think John omits his name for the same reason he calls himself "the disciple whom Jesus loved". I think John is trying to take as much of the emphasis off him and his brother as possible. Probably the whole business with their mother.

So here we are at the tomb. Peter, John, and possibly James have run there in great expectation. John does something curious. He stoops down and peers into the tomb (John 20:5a). This is the SAME word James uses in James 1:25! The tomb was not much more than a small cave in the ground, hewn out of the rocks and just large enough for a body or two. The stone that had covered the entrance was rolled (dropped) from above to seal the entrance. One would have to bend down just to look into the now opened cave. What was John hoping to see there? James (the brother of Jesus) tells us: the perfect (teleo) law, the law of liberty.

You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free (liberty).
I am the way and the truth and the life.

And the word "perfect" here is again from the root teleo -- complete. Christ is the LAW, which is our taskmaster MADE LIBERTY, our freedom. And wouldn't that be the most complete or perfect kind of law? One that sets people free? THIS would be THE great unified field theory, or should I say unified field LAW: one that sets all things at liberty. But the ONLY way we will experience what James and John did is to stoop, to kneel, to bow low before the tomb. Something in us has to die before it can be raised again. All my "liberties" that have become "laws" as I have sought to have life on my own terms, to bend God to be what I want him to be, must die before the open tomb.

If I never kneel, I'll never see what ISN'T there. I am expecting to see a lifeless corpse wound with spices and linen -- a Jesus who can do nothing more for me than be the symbol of a failed revolt. But if I will forsake my pride, my lust, my laziness, my loneliness, my rejection, my demand that Jesus come forth to me like Lazarus out of his tomb; if I will but bend my knee and look intently into the perfect law, the law of liberty, I will suddenly have become a doer who acts. And I thought Christ was going to demand that I do some impossible thing for him. All he ever wanted was for me to come to him and kneel.

Jon

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