First of all, a warm welcome back after the summer break to those of you who have been away over the summer. I hope you have had some rest at some point to enjoy the summer months.
Last Sunday, we opened the “Season of Invitation” which will take us through September and a number of special opportunities up to Christmas to invite people to church, a place and community that is important in our own lives.
It is quite providential that we are reading our way through James’s letter. James reminds us of the importance of underpinning our faith with action. This Sunday’s epistle focuses on the way we treat those who come through our doors. In years gone by churches used to charge pew rents. I haven’t been able to find out when these were abolished in St Nicholas, but in my former church they weren’t abolished until 1931. People paid to sit in their favourite seats; where one sat signified status within the community. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry these days about sitting in someone else’s seat. As we, hopefully, welcome people into church who haven’t been or haven’t been for a while we might want to reflect on our own tendency to “partiality” as James calls it.
Jesus learns, too. Through his encounter with the Syrophoenician woman Jesus’ understanding of his own ministry and of God’s plan grows. Jesus believed he was sent to Israel but realises now that all will have a part in the salvation he brings.
May our faith be always underpinned by the way we welcome those who come to us.