fresh bread: shame on us

Church, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord who has been resurrected in glory.

Two men walk into our Sunday morning worship gathering. Both are newcomers, having never been in our building before. One drives up in a Cadillac sporting a suit and tie, nice shoes, a fine gold watch, and a rather dignified air that seems to radiate from his good looks and fitness. His wife is attractive, is beautifully dressed and comes across as very pleasant and quite courteous.

The other man drives up in an old beater of a truck. He is wearing well-worn jeans and a clean, but dated, stained and unironed shirt. His teeth are quite crooked and yellow and he is something less than plain in looks. He has arrived alone and his lack of confidence is obvious to all.

Who is treated best and receives special attention? Will not several approach the couple who are obviously doing well and say to them: “We’re glad you’re here! We’d love to have you as a part of this church. Won’t you come sit here with me and my family? Do you have plans for lunch?”

Meanwhile the poor man is virtually ignored. Some will cast secretive, suspicious glances his way, but otherwise he is shunned. He hears the unspoken message loud and clear: “Who are you? You’re not wanted here. Can’t you see you make us uncomfortable? Hopefully you won’t come back!”

Let me tell you my brothers and sisters, when you do this, your prejudice shows and you live like evil-minded judges.

My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God himself often chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? But to your shame you treat the poor shamefully and cause shame to well up in the poor. …

Understand, when you do live out the royal law found in scripture – “Love your neighbor as yourself” – you do well. But when you show favoritism, make no mistake about it, you are actively sinning and by that same law you are exposed for what you are, a lawbreaker. … So in everything you do, talk and walk like people who will be judged by the law that gives freedom to all. There will be no mercy in judgment there for anyone who hasn’t shown mercy here. (James 2:1-6a,8-9,12-13 DSV)

ct: what praise is

Praise is not an “add on” to knowledge gained through other ways of knowing. Rather, praise is the condition necessary for our being able to see ourselves and all that is as God’s creation, that is, to see the contingent and beautiful intricacy of the world as manifestation of God’s glory. Praise is God’s good gift through which we participate with all creation in the joyful recognition that all that is was created to worship God. Through praise we learn to acknowledge that God is always beyond whatever we imagine to be “the beyond.” Yet the same God abides in absolute intimacy with creation. God’s beauty, God’s terrifying beauty of holiness, at once embraces and exceeds all that is. (Stanley Hauerwas, A Cross-Shattered Church: Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching, p.54)