In the epistle lesson for this Sunday (James 5:13-20), James asks a question that is never without an affirmative response. “Are any among you sick?,” he asks. Tell me a single day, a single hour when there is no one among us who is sick. This week alone our congregation remembered the lives of three of our church family, all of whom died after a sickness. Family of our church family have died. We have had several people experience hospitalizations for their physical needs. We know of too many people with on-going sicknesses. Those that come to mind are the ones dealing with physical sickness, unless you are caring for or experiencing mental illness, then the ongoing challenges of that kind of sickness aren’t lost on you. There are spiritual sicknesses, too. Yes, James, there are people among us who are sick.
James advises us that should we be in the situation of having sickness among us that we should call the elders of the church, have them pray over the sick and anoint them in the name of the Lord. If that sounds like what an elixir salesman might recommend, let’s break his recommendation down. Calling the elders of the church may well signify seeking the mature in faith. When I’m facing a difficult part of life, I want the wisdom and compassion earned by people who have been through challenges and made it to the other side of them to be visited on me. I want their steady presence while I’m unnerved. I want people who believe God is present with us in whatever we face to ask that of God, no, to demand that of God, on my behalf. I want their presence to be a reminder to me of God’s. And I want to be touched. Well, I, personally, don’t want to be touched too much or too often, but enough to remind me that I’m not an untouchable person dealing with this alone, but someone who people aren’t afraid of coming around, aren’t so discomforted by seeing my condition that they’re unwilling to place a reassuring hand on my shoulder while I’m experiencing it. I want someone else’s peace to help me when I’m not at peace.
Speaking of, being at peace is something Jesus wants for us in Sunday’s gospel lesson (Mark 9:38-50).
May you be at peace, receiving the peaceful presence of another, or helping to spread peace today.