Monday, April 08, 2013

The book of James

My church is encouraging people to read and study the book of James through out the month of April.  This is a short introduction to the book:

The book of James

The book of James challenges us to live out our faith.  James emphasizes that we need to not simply listen to the bible we need to obey it.  This short book is filled with practical wisdom.  It covers a range of topics: from temptation to watching what we say, from favoritism to prayer, from making future plans to suffering.

Author: James
He was the half-brother to Jesus (Galatians 1:19)
James did not believe in Jesus at first (John 7:5; Mark 3:21)
He accepted Jesus as the Messiah after the resurrection
He is sometimes referred to as “James the Just”
James was key leader in the early church, especially in Jerusalem
He was a leader in the important Jerusalem council that is mentioned in Acts 15
When Paul traveled to Jerusalem to meet with the church leaders he sought out James (Galatians 1:19)
James was martyred in 61 AD in Jerusalem by stoning[1]

Date of writing: Unknown
We are not sure exactly when this book was written.  However it may actually be the first New Testament book to have been written.

Written to: Early Jewish Christians who were not residing in Jerusalem 
At first the early church consisted primarily of Jewish believers.  The church later expanded to include those who were not of Jewish origin. 

It is likely that this letter was written to be circulated among different congregations. 

Key verses:
            James 1:5
            James 1:22
            James 1:27
            James 2:17
            James 3:13
            James 4:17
            James 5:16

Douglas, JD.  Who’s Who in Christian History, “James, Brother of Jesus” page 351-352.  Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Wheaton Illinois, 1992.

The works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, translated by William Whiston, Hendrickson Publishers, Massachusetts, 1987.

[1] The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, page 537-538

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Rent a Mourner

Article from talks about a business that hires out actors to attend and mourn at your funeral.  Their website states:
Whether you need to introduce new faces, increase perceived popularity or simply increase numbers we are here to help
This is something that is common in some other cultures.  However this feels different.  I want to say wrong but that would not be the right word.
In other cultures it is an established cultural tradition.  Everyone knows who has been hired and what they are there for (often it is for loud wailing).  This seems like something totally different.
The website mentions to "increase perceived popularity".
Which leads me to ask a whole bunch of questions:

  • Are we so desperate to appear popular that even in death we are still striving for people to believe that we are/were popular?
  • What has happened to our community when we need to hire people to come to our funeral?  We have 1,000 face-book friends, but are not convinced that anyone them will actually show up to say fare-well once we have died.
  • Why are we worried about what people think of us after we are dead?
  • Funerals are already expensive  so why pay more to convince people that we are popular?  (Rather than giving the money to family or friends.)
  • Who do we think we are kidding?  Do we really think that people are not going to know that we hired someone?  And once it is discovered what happens to our "perceived popularity"?