Last week I stood in front of a group of people and read the book of James. I like to read long sections from the Bible, whole letters sometimes.
At one point James is trying to help his readers understand the importance of saying and doing, of believing and acting. He says, “If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.” James 2:15-17
I read that the other day to the group and while my mouth kept reading, my mind started thinking about the people cleaning up after Hurricane Harvey. I started thinking about the approach of Hurricane Irma. I thought about all the ways that people are struggling. And I understood the people who say, “Thoughts and prayers don’t help very much.”
James says, “if you know of people who just lost their house and you say, ‘stay warm’ and don’t offer a bed or a hotel voucher, what good is it?” If we say ‘I’ll pray that you find food’ while we go out to eat, what good is it?
On this morning when people are without food and homes to the west of us from fires and to the south of us from earthquakes and storms and to the east of us from storms and around the world from us from storms and mudslides and murderers, we need to pray. We need to ask for strength for those working and comfort for those grieving. We need to ask for courage for those fearing and peace for little ones in shelters.
But as powerful as God is, we need to do more than pray. We need to act. In the ways we can.