As we heard in yesterday’s gospel reading (Mark 9:38-50), Jesus challenges his disciples about their resistance to someone outside their group doing good in his name, warned them about putting a hurdle between a child and him, told them to cut off their hands and feet and tear out their eyes if those cause them to stumble, and cautioned that not practicing self-discipline can lead to an unquenchable fire. He concluded, for them “be at peace with one another.” The transition is startling.
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.