On Wednesday night

On Wednesday night, I was leading a Bible study. At church. With about nine men. We were reading from a letter that James, the half-brother of Jesus, had written to other followers of Jesus very early in the history of the Church.

“Is any of you suffering?” James asked. “Let him pray.”

He was talking about many kinds of suffering. Because we have many kinds of suffering. But in the context of the letter, he’s particularly aware of people who are being attacked by the empire, attacked by the religious establishment for following Jesus. For gathering in his name. For living lives in obedience to his cross-earned credibility, to his life-losing love.

In our conference room conversation, we talked. We had a couple of guests, new to our group. One was a former neighbor of mine, the other was the high-school age son of a regular attender.

We’ve had other guests in other weeks. People who have come in, asked for a pastor, chatted with me, and come to our study. The guys in our group have made them welcome, showed them the passages we are studying. We try look at people who come as people who may be representing or needing conversation with Jesus.

So when I read of another Bible study in another church on Wednesday night, where a young man walked into the church, asked for the pastor, and sat in on the Bible study, I am not at all surprised at the open door and open seat he apparently found.

Which makes this, for me, a crime against love.

I want to know, sometime, what the study was. I’m curious about Pastor Pinckney’s last reflection from scripture, as he saw the young man turn into a murderer.

But for now, I can only repeat the words of James.

“Is any of you suffering?” James asked. “Let him pray.”

3 thoughts on “On Wednesday night

  1. MissDazey

    Beautiful piece, glad to have your insights.
    I read a comment by someone who ask, “Why didn’t God hear the prayers of the 9 believers and save them from death?”

    I admit I am wrestling with this myself. I am comforted by knowing these beautiful souls were welcomed into Heaven.


    1. Jon Swanson

      Thanks. I’m with you in the wrestling. I’m willing to ask that question but in an “I wonder” way rather than a demanding way. I’m pretty sure God heard. I’m trusting theologically that they are saved from death. But I’m resisting offering or demanding of God explanations of what their deaths may mean.

      Because real brothers and sisters died. And families hurt. And a church lost 3/5s of the pastoral leadership staff listed on their website. And all of that just hurts.

      On Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 9:30 AM, 300 words a day wrote:



  2. ScLoHo

    Jon, I read that Friday morning, then last night watch as the family members spoke at the young mans bond hearing. The family members spoke words of love. They expressed hurt, shock, grief but also love as one after another told him they forgive him and some asked him to repent and turn to Christ, all in the name and expression of Love. As I watched continued coverage on TV this Saturday, I read aloud your words to others. Thank you for sharing.


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