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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

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James seeks to douse the fires spitting from the mouth. He may even ask us, "What happens to a mistake-riddled humanity caught in a whirlwind of environmental catastrophe, stuck in the noise of sexual incontinence, or dispirited by fires of seemingly uncompassionate policy shifts?" Could James sense even the historic strains of systemic racial disparity on our domestic tranquility? Could our voices become accountable to a "greater strictness" when challenged by the Christ? Can sensible judgment come after grace?

If leaders are emblematic of the bridle controlling our innermost soul (vv. 2-3), perhaps we become teachers with ability to lead from our mistakes. Perhaps we turn the rudder of the church's mission with God's plumb line guiding our communal well-being (v. 4). After all, through this accountable quest of careful Christian life, we may become good news for our neighbor. The good news that James writes for an emerging Christian communion asks them to imagine a new bridle on the mouth, providing common sense and solid leadership.

Oh God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, my source of strength and redemption. Amen.

David Rommereim, '81
Inter-faith Clergy Coalition, Whitefish, Mont.

James 3.1-12 (NRSV)

1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
2 For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle.
3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies.
4 Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.
5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!
6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species,
8 but no one can tame the tongue--a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.
10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.
11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water?
12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.