Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

* James of Jerusalem *


O great Chief, light a candle in my heart, that I may see what is inside it and sweep the rubbish from your dwelling place. Amen.

( African schoolgirl's prayer )


Watchman on the walls of Zion, tell, O tell us of the night;
do you see the star of promise? Is it shining clear and bright?
Hallelujah, hallelujah, over the mountain’s towering height,
see it rising and ascending; millions hail its welcome sight.

Watchman on the walls of Zion, will the Messiah they have slain,
bring the banished sons of Judah to their native hills again?
Hallelujah! God is ever mindful of his chosen race,
though in exile, he will restore them to a father’s dear embrace.

Watchman on the walls of Zion, tell us of the future times;
when shall peace and holy union bind the soul of every clime?
Where the spark of love and glory, kindled to a living flame,
make the heart of every Christian feel and throb and burn the same.

( Fanny Crosby, 1820–1915 )

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

James of Jerusalem: brother of the Lord

Today Saint Laika’s remembers James of Jerusalem, who is called “the brother of the Lord.” There are at least two other followers of Jesus named James. On the twenty-fifth of July we remember James the “Greater” and on May Day we remember James the “Less.” James of Jerusalem is the third, a member of the Lord’s own human family.

Much of what we know about him comes from inference. For example, some Christians who believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary will insist James is the cousin of Jesus. Others believe he is a half-brother of Jesus, a child of Joseph’s first marriage (also an inference).

We also believe James did not come to faith in Jesus until after the resurrection. Both Mark and John make references to his family not believing in him, and Paul mentions James as a recipient of a visit by the risen Lord in "The First Letter to the Corinthians," chapter fifteen.

In any event, James was a pious and devout Jew, who became the leader of the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem. We infer also that he is the author of the "Letter of James" in the "New Testament," filled as it is with Jewish themes. He was a key player in supporting Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles and his leadership is evidenced in "Acts" chapter fifteen, where Paul’s ministry was discussed.

Church historian, Eusebius, quoting an earlier historian of the church, Hegesippus, tells us James was called “the Just,” by the people of Jerusalem. He was successful in getting many Jews in Jerusalem to become believers in Jesus as the Messiah. So much so, that he was hurled from the temple wall to the pavement and beaten to death.

If it is true that James only came to believe in his brother after the resurrection, it is indeed remarkable that he became a leader in the Jesus movement, but one who did not stand on his lineage, but gave way to Paul and others who were moving out into the Gentile world. Part of his integrity must be his humility and his willingness to serve. Qualities that are needed today both in public service and in service to the Church.

Scripture. In the third chapter of "James," in verses sixteen to eighteen we read:

Where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.


We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for the Christian Church in Jerusalem.

... for Messianic Jews and Jewish converts to Christianity.

... for church leaders, that they may lead with humility and courage.

... for friends in hospital at this time.

... for the people of Hungary who celebrate their national holiday today.

... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.


From "Church History" by Eusebius of Caesarea, c.260-c.340:

But after Paul, in consequence of his appeal to Caesar, had been sent to Rome by Festus, the Jews, being frustrated in their hope of entrapping him by the snares which they had laid for him, turned against James, the brother of the Lord, to whom the episcopal seat at Jerusalem had been entrusted by the apostles. The following daring measures were undertaken by them against him.

Leading him into their midst they demanded of him that he should renounce faith in Christ in the presence of all the people. But, contrary to the opinion of all, with a clear voice, and with greater boldness than they had anticipated, he spoke out before the whole multitude and confessed that our Saviour and Lord Jesus is the Son of God. But they were unable to bear longer the testimony of the man who, on account of the excellence of ascetic virtue and of piety which he exhibited in his life, was esteemed by all as the most just of men, and consequently they slew him. Opportunity for this deed of violence was furnished by the prevailing anarchy, which was caused by the fact that Festus had died just at this time in Judea, and that the province was thus without a governor and head.

The manner of James' death has been already indicated by the above-quoted words of Clement, who records that he was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple, and was beaten to death with a club. But Hegesippus, who lived immediately after the apostles, gives the most accurate account in the fifth book of his Memoirs. He writes as follows:

James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Saviour to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James. He was holy from his mother's womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath. He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woollen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people.

Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek, "Bulwark of the people" and "Justice," in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him.

Now some of the seven sects, which existed among the people and which have been mentioned by me in the Memoirs, asked him, "What is the gate of Jesus?" and he replied that he was the Saviour.

On account of these words some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the sects mentioned above did not believe either in a resurrection or in one's coming to give to every man according to his works. But as many as believed did so on account of James. Therefore when many even of the rulers believed, there was a commotion among the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, who said that there was a danger that the whole people would be looking for Jesus as the Christ.

Coming therefore in a body to James they said, "We entreat you, restrain the people; for they are gone astray in regard to Jesus as if he were the Christ. We entreat you to persuade all that have come to the feast of the Passover concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in you. For we bear you witness, as do all the people, that you are just. Therefore persuade the multitude not to be led astray concerning Jesus. For the whole people, and all of us also, have confidence in you. Stand therefore upon the pinnacle of the temple, that from that high position you may be clearly seen, and that your words may be readily heard by all the people. For all the tribes, with the Gentiles also, are come together on account of the Passover."

The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees therefore placed James upon the pinnacle of the temple, and cried out to him and said: "Just one, in whom we ought all to have confidence, forasmuch as the people are led astray after Jesus, the crucified one, declare to us, what is the gate of Jesus."

And he answered with a loud voice, "Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sits in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven."

And when many were fully convinced and gloried in the testimony of James, and said, "Hosanna to the Son of David," these same Scribes and Pharisees said again to one another, "We have done badly in supplying such testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, in order that they may be afraid to believe him."

And they cried out, saying, "Oh! oh! the just man is also in error."

And they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah, "Let us take away the just man because he is troublesome to us: therefore they shall eat the fruit of their doings."

So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to each other, "Let us stone James the Just."

And they began to stone him, for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned and knelt down and said, "I entreat you, Lord God our Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

And while they were thus stoning him one of the priests of the sons of Rechab, the son of the Rechabites, who are mentioned by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out, saying, "Cease! What are you doing? The just one prays for you."

And one of them, who was a fuller, took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the just man on the head. And thus he suffered martyrdom. And they buried him on the spot, by the temple, and his monument still remains by the temple. He became a true witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ.


Grant, O God, that following the example of your servant James the Just, brother of our Lord, your Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


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